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Health Spotlight | Exploring the link between PCOS and cognitive decline

Health Spotlight | Exploring the link between PCOS and cognitive decline

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — PCOS is a hormonal disorder that affects eight to 13 percent of reproductive-aged women. Now, recent research suggests that there might be a link between PCOS and cognitive decline later in life.

PSOS, or polycystic ovarian syndrome, affects 116 million women worldwide and is characterized by hormonal imbalances, irregular periods, and cysts on the ovaries.

A recent study published by the American Academy of Neurology found that women with PCOS may also have an increased risk of cognitive impairment. Researchers followed over a hundred women over 30 years and found that those with PCOS performed worse on tests measuring memory, attention, and executive function.

Dr. Sepideh Shokouhi, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatric and behavioral sciences at Vanderbilt University Medical Center says, “I think understanding how sex influences biological processes in the brain that lead to Alzheimer’s and dementia can help us identify therapies that would work best for women.”

The exact mechanisms underlying the link between PCOS and cognitive decline are still being explored. However, hormonal imbalances, insulin resistance, inflammation, and metabolic dysfunction associated with PCOS are thought to play a role.

Doctors say women with PCOS can protect their cognitive health by exercising, controlling their blood pressure, and keeping their cholesterol levels in the healthy range.

Shokouhi says, “Beyond medicine, I hope to see an increase in women’s cognitive and mental health, including educational and lifestyle changes that can help us to become more resilient.”

Experts say other ways to protect your cognitive health include improving your sleep quality and your muscle strength.

This story was created from a script aired on WISH-TV. Health Spotlight is presented by Community Health Network.