People with PCOS may be more likely to develop psoriasis. Psoriasis can lead to psoriatic arthritis.

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is an imbalance of reproductive hormones that can cause issues in the ovaries. PCOS is a common condition that affects approximately 1 in 10 women of reproductive age in the United States.

PCOS can cause an absence of or irregular menstrual periods, which may lead to infertility. A person with PCOS may also experience atypical growths on one or both ovaries.

Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is a long-term condition that affects the joints and typically worsens over time. PsA occurs when the immune system becomes overactive. It typically causes inflammation, pain, and swelling in the joints. People with PsA often already have the skin condition psoriasis. Approximately 20% of people with psoriasis have PsA.

This article discusses the link between PCOS and PsA, whether PCOS can lead to autoimmune diseases, what role inflammation plays in PCOS and PsA, treatments, and more.

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Studies suggest that people with PCOS are more likely to develop the skin condition psoriasis.

Approximately 1 in 3 people with psoriasis will eventually develop PsA.

However, currently, there is no research suggesting that PCOS and PsA can directly cause each other.

Alongside the link with psoriasis, there are several other connections between PCOS and PsA.

Learn more about PCOS.

Insulin resistance

Insulin resistance occurs when the cells in the body have difficulty responding to insulin and cannot easily move glucose from the blood. When this happens, the pancreas has to compensate by making more insulin.

It is common for people with PCOS to have insulin resistance.

Studies also show that people with PsA are more at risk of developing insulin resistance.

Metabolic syndrome

Metabolic syndrome is a group of conditions that can increase the risk of stroke, coronary heart disease, and diabetes.

Metabolic syndrome can occur when a person has obesity, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar.

Research suggests that people with PsA are at a greater risk of developing metabolic syndrome. Studies also show that 43% of people with PCOS have metabolic syndrome.

People with PCOS have an imbalance of certain hormones, including low levels of progesterone.

These low levels of progesterone can overstimulate the immune system into making too much estrogen.

Research suggests that higher levels of estrogen may lead to autoimmune diseases, such as lupus.

People with PsA can have overactive immune systems, which can lead to inflammatory abnormalities and manifest as inflammation in the joints.

Studies show that people with PCOS also experience long-term inflammation in the body. However, the exact reason behind this is still unknown.

There is currently no cure for PCOS. However, there are treatments available to help a person manage their symptoms and reduce their risk of developing other health conditions. These treatments include:

  • eating a balanced diet
  • getting regular exercise
  • taking medications, including:
    • hormonal birth control
    • anti-androgen medications
    • metformin
  • maintaining a moderate weight
  • removing hair with hair removal creams or laser removal
  • slowing hair growth with medications, such as eflornithine HCl cream

Treatments for PsA can include:

  • taking medications, such as:
  • making lifestyle changes, such as:
    • quitting smoking
    • reducing stress
    • following a healthy, balanced diet
  • getting regular exercise with low impact activities, such as:
    • walking
    • swimming
    • yoga

An early diagnosis of PCOS or PsA is important to help treat and manage the conditions as effectively as possible.

It is best to contact a doctor if a person has any of the following symptoms of PCOS or PsA:

  • irregular or no menstrual periods
  • difficulty getting pregnant
  • unexplained weight gain
  • excessive hair growth or thinning hair
  • acne
  • painful, itchy, and red or discolored rashes on the skin
  • pain, tenderness, warmth, and swelling in the joints
  • fatigue
  • low grade fever

The following are some questions people frequently ask about PCOS, inflammation, and psoriasis.

Does PCOS cause inflammation in the joints?

Currently, no research suggests that PCOS causes inflammation in the joints. However, studies show that people with PCOS may be more likely to develop osteoarthritis (OA), which is characterized by low levels of joint inflammation that can lead to wear and tear of the joints.

However, the study also stated that people without obesity may have a lower risk of OA than those with it. The connection may be more relevant to obesity than PCOS. More research is needed.

Are psoriasis and PCOS linked?

Studies suggest that people with PCOS have a greater risk of developing psoriasis.

What kind of inflammation can PCOS cause?

PCOS can lead to long-term, low grade inflammation in the body. This can be a risk factor for developing heart conditions.

There are significant links between PCOS and PsA. Both conditions can lead to inflammation in the body and may lead to insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome.

Research also suggests that there is a direct link between PCOS and psoriasis, which is a skin condition that can eventually lead to PsA. Approximately 1 in 3 people with psoriasis will develop PsA.

However, there is currently no research to suggest that having PCOS is a direct cause of PsA.