The polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), the most common endocrine disorder among reproductive-age women, produces a wide variety of body changes with both physical and emotional implications for sufferers.
Many women with PCOS are found to have insulin resistance, a condition that allows excessive levels of insulin to circulate in the blood and increases the risk for Type 2 diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. PCOS is also the leading cause of androgen excess in women. Although these "male" hormones normally exist in all women in small amounts, excessive levels of androgens often lead to the development of such symptoms as acne, weight gain, the growth of unwanted hair in male-type patterns, and menstrual irregularities. PCOS is one of the leading causes of infertility in women.
Because generic questionnaires designed to measure patients' health-related quality of life are unlikely to capture the full impact of the condition or detect small but meaningful improvements in therapy, researchers at McMaster University in Ontario and the University of Alabama, Birmingham (UAB) have developed a PCOS-specific questionnaire. It is the first health-status instrument to measure disease-related dysfunction in PCOS sufferers for use in clinical trials and other research.
The Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Questionnaire (PCOSQ) is described in the December issue of the Journal of Clinical Epidemiology. One of the authors of the article, "Health-Related Quality of Life in Women With Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: Validation of a Self Administered Questionnaire," is Ricardo A. Azziz, MD, MPH, MBA, Chair of Cedars-Sinai's Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Director of the Center for Androgen-Related Disorders, and Executive Director of the Androgen Excess Society, an international research organization. Before joining Cedars-Sinai, Dr. Azziz served as Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and in the Department of Medicine at UAB.
"When you look at a large population of women with the polycystic ovary syndrome, there is a clear reduction in quality of life, driven primarily by hirsutism and excess weight. The good news is that quality of life perception does improve with therapy," says Dr. Azziz, who now serves as Professor and Vice-Chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Professor in the Department of Medicine at The David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.
Dr. Azziz, who holds The Helping Hand of Los Angeles Chair in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Cedars-Sinai, is available for interviews on the subjects of androgen excess, PCOS and the related quality of life issues.