Women's Health

The Possible Relation Between Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

The Possible Relation Between Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

How is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) associated with difficulty in sleeping? It does seem as if they are two completely different health issues, but there is scientific evidence that confirms the connection.

In women of pre-menopausal age polycystic ovary syndrome is a common disorder. It can cause serious metabolic and cardiovascular conditions due to hormonal imbalance. Gradually over time numerous cysts grow in the ovaries. Usually these cysts are benign. However these cysts may affect the body by causing changes in hormone production.

In women with PCOS there is increased level of testosterone. This can lead to OSA. Obesity increases the risk further. In women with PCOS obesity may develop. OSA may also be caused due to low levels of progesterone. Women suffering from PCOS may have breathing difficulties due to low level of this hormone. Studies have revealed that the risk of developing OSA increases by 30 times in women with PCOS.

In women with PCOS the blood sugar level is not regulated by the body causing more production of insulin which may increase the level of testosterone. Obesity may be caused by insulin resistance which might cause diabetes type 2.

Also certain levels of fats are altered in PCOS the LDL or bad cholesterol level may increase and HDL or good cholesterol level may decrease. Thus the risks of cardiovascular disease may increase. This includes coronary artery disease and high blood pressure. This condition may also affect mental health and may cause skin problems, unwanted weight gains, unsuccessful pregnancies, body hair growth.  In women of childbearing age PCOS is very common. The cause is still not clear but it is thought that the risk is higher in those with a family history of PCOS. 

Obstructive sleep apnea is in which during sleep the body takes one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breathing may occur. OSA causes variety of symptoms due to poor intake of oxygen.  OSA may cause restlessness, insomnia, loud snoring. Due to lack of sleep, day time sleepiness may occur that may make the person difficult to do any tasks. OSA can cause concentration and memory problem due to lack of oxygen. Over time high blood pressure and sexual dysfunction may occur.

Recognizing PCOS:

Irregular periods- there is irregularity in the cyclic manner of periods and it is difficult to rely on the calendar. Further this can cause fertility problems. Some might even get periods that can be excessive or prolonged. This can further cause anaemia or low iron level. A range of health issues can be triggered due to this such as depression, fatigue and irregular heart rhythm.

High blood androgens- in women with PCOS male sex hormone androgen is overproduced. Testosterone may be overproduced. This can cause abnormal hair growth, acne.  Estrogen level may be low.

Ultrasonography- cysts on the ovaries can be revealed by ultrasonography.

In women of childbearing age PCOS is a common endocrine disorder. It is believed that there may be a genetic cause related to it. It can be inherited through the family.  Hence at the gynaecologist women should practice regular check-ups. The condition can be managed better by detecting it early. The prevalence of OSA can be lessened by controlling PCOS.