Treating Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Costs $8 Billion in US Annually

A meta-analysis builds upon previous research and provides new insight into the total costs of diagnosis and treating PCOS as well as the costs of treating PCOS-related comorbidities.

Data from a meta-analysis of 29 studies suggests the US spent $8 billion on the treatment and diagnosis of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) in 2020.

Published midway through Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Awareness Month, the study builds on previous research suggesting the cost of initial diagnosis and reproductive morbidities cost nearly $4 billion by providing evidence of the additional costs associated with PCOS, such as pregnancy-related and long-term comorbidities, including stroke and diabetes.

“Although PCOS affects at least one in seven women and leads to over $8 billion in healthcare costs annually in the United States alone, it is frequently misunderstood or overlooked by clinicians and policymakers,” said lead investigator Carrie Riestenberg, MD, of the University of California, Los Angeles, in a statement. “With a better understanding of how to diagnose and treat this common condition effectively, we may be able to reduce the economic burden as well as the impact on women’s quality of life.”

With PCOS affecting up to 1-in-5 reproductive-aged women in the US, it is among the most common conditions for female patients. With an interest in building on a previous study, which estimated the economic burden of PCOS to be $2.6 billion in 2004 and $3.7 billion in 2020 after adjusting for inflation, Riestenberg and a team of colleagues designed the current study with the intent of providing a more complete estimate of the annual cost of PCOS in the US. To do so, investigators designed their study as a meta-analysis of data from within the PubMed, EmBase, and Cochrane Library databases with no date restrictions.

For inclusion in the meta-analysis, studies needed to be observational, controlled studies that examined risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes or long-term health outcomes in women with PCOS compared against a control group. Investigators noted studies that reported relative risks, odds ratios, or incidence data were eligible for inclusion but those without a control group, did not match or control for BMI, and those reporting hazard ratios were excluded. Of note, investigators used the NIH diagnostic criteria for PCOS after determining it yielded the most consistent and conservative prevalence estimates and the consumer price index was used to adjust for inflation.

From their search, investigators identified investigates identified a total of 3146 studies for potential inclusion in the study. Of these, 3082 were excluded after abstract screening and 64 were reviewed in detail. Ultimately, 29 studies were included in the meta-analysis.

Using these studies, investigators were able to calculate the prevalence and economic burden associated with various comorbidities and pregnancy-related conditions associated with PCOS, including gestational hypertension, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, type 2 diabetes mellitus, myocardial infarction, and stroke. From this data, investigators determined the estimated economic burden of managing long-term and pregnancy-related comorbidities with PCOS was $4.3 billion in 2020. When combining this figure with previous estimates of the burden of diagnosis and treatment, investigators estimated the total economic burden of PCOS to be $8 billion annually in 2020.

“Our results suggest that diagnosing PCOS sooner could help reduce the complications women experience and lower the overall cost of providing care,” Riestenberg said. “Increased public awareness of the condition could help improve the quality of care.”

This study, “Health Care-Related Economic Burden of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome in the United States: Pregnancy-Related and Long-Term Health Consequences,” was published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.