In 2016, the Patty Brisben Foundation awarded a grant to Wright State University for research on polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). PCOS is the most common endocrine disorder among reproductive age women, yet there is limited research on the evaluation of treatment outcomes related to the sexual and subjective health status of women. The condition can cause irregular periods, weight gain, acne, and infertility. It has also been linked to sexual dysfunction and can negatively affect a woman’s mental health and quality of life.
A team of researchers led by Dr. Steven Lindheim sought to understand the prevalence of sexual dysfunction in women with PCOS. This study enrolled 60 women with diagnosed PCOS and abnormal sexual dysfunction without evidence of depression. Participants were given Vitamin D, which is known to benefit reproductive function, and chose between taking hormonal or non-hormonal contraceptives during the timeframe of the study.
Their findings were consistent with existing literature on PCOS – two-thirds of women experienced sexual dysfunction, which was standardized with the Female Sexual Subjectivity Inventory (FSSI). Following 6 months of Vitamin D with and without hormonal contraceptives, sexual dysfunction was significantly improved compared to the baseline at the start of the study. Improvements were seen more in the women who were taking hormonal contraceptives.
As a result of this study, Dr. Lindheim frequently uses the FSSI scale to identify sexual dysfunction in patients with PCOS and offers hormonal contraception and Vitamin D as treatment. His manuscript presenting the results of this research was recently accepted for publication in the Journal of Sexual Medicine. He hopes to conduct further studies to determine the impact of using higher doses of Vitamin D.
This study would not have been possible without the support of the Patty Brisben Foundation. We look forward to seeing how Dr. Lindheim’s work continues to influence treatments for women with sexual dysfunction related to PCOS.