May Update: PCOS and COVID-19

Stethescope

An update on PCOS/COVID risk factors from Verity medical advisor Prof Stephen Franks.

There is no scientific evidence, to date, that women with PCOS are at high risk of getting serious complications of Covid-19 and plenty of reasons to think that’s unlikely to be the case.

  1. Women are at significantly lower risk of serious complications of Covid-19 than men
  2. Most women with PCOS will be of reproductive age or a little older and the risk is low compared with elderly women
  3. Although raised testosterone has been suggested to be a factor in the greater risk in men, there is no clear evidence for this
  4. A more likely alternative explanation is that there is a protective element in women (perhaps oestrogen) which would also be present in women with PCOS
  5. Even if testosterone is found to be a risk factor for the gender difference in complications, it’s worth remembering that typical circulating testosterone levels in women with PCOS are in the range of 1-3 nmol/l – much lower than the lowest levels in men (10-40 nmol/l)
  6. Of course, obesity is a risk factor whether you have PCOS or not but, again the increased risk in young (or youngish) women is minimal
  7. And if you have underlying health problems such as diabetes and lung disease, your risk will also be a bit higher (and you will need to be more careful if out and about) but, again, no reason to think that having PCOS means any additional risk

Prof Franks wrote a piece about COVID-19 for us in March, you can read it on our blog here.