Women May Experience Different PCOS Symptoms Depending on Where They Live

PCOS affects 7-10% of women of childbearing age and is the most common cause of infertility. Women are diagnosed with PCOS if they have two of the following criteria: androgen excess (excess male sex hormones such as testosterone), ovulatory dysfunction and polycystic ovaries.

“Our study found geographical differences in PCOS in black and white women, suggesting there are both genetic and environmental influences on how this disease manifests,” said Margareta D. Pisarska, M.D. 

The researchers compared data from 1,610 black and white women with PCOS in Alabama and California. They found regional differences in the way these women met criteria for the diagnosis of PCOS and in symptoms associated with PCOS, with some variations among black and white women.

Overall, there were many similarities among the races. Women with PCOS in Alabama were more likely to have excessive hair growth and insulin resistance, whereas women with PCOS in California were more likely to have higher levels of testosterone.

“Since we have now identified that there are geo-epidemiologic differences, we intend to do follow up studies comparing black and white women with PCOS, controlling for geo-epidemiologic differences,” Pisarska said. “Furthermore, we are trying to look at factors that are contributing to these differences in order to tailor treatments based on specific needs for improvements in care for all women with PCOS.”


Katherine VanHise, Jessica L Chan, Sahar Wertheimer, Roy G Handelsman, Ekaterina Clark, Rae Buttle, Erica T Wang, Ricardo Azziz, Margareta D Pisarska. Regional Variation in Hormonal and Metabolic Parameters of White and Black Women With PCOS in the United States. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 2022; DOI: 10.1210/clinem/dgac515

Queen Mary University of London. “New genes and natural toxins offer hope for cancer patients unresponsive to chemotherapy.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 September 2023. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2023/09/230904104625.htm>.

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Photo by Simone Van Der Koelen