Risk of obstructive sleep apnea in obese and nonobese women with polycystic ovary syndrome and healthy reproductively normal women

The increased risk for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) in PCOS may be related to obesity. Nonobese women with PCOS are not at increased risk for OSA compared with control women with similar body mass indexes.


Babak Mokhlesi, M.D., Bert Scoccia, M.D., Theodore Mazzone, M.D., Susan Sam, M.D.

Volume 97, Issue 3 , Pages 786-791



To study the risk for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) in a group of nonobese and obese polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and control women.


Prospective study.


Academic tertiary care medical center.


Forty-four women with PCOS and 34 control women.


All of the women completed the Berlin questionnaire for assessment of OSA risk.

Main Outcome Measure(s):

All of the women underwent fasting determination of androgens, glucose, and insulin.


Women with PCOS were more obese compared with control women. However, there were no differences in BMI once subjects were divided into nonobese (PCOS: n = 17; control: n = 26) and obese (PCOS: n = 27; control: n = 8) groups. Women with PCOS had higher prevalence of high-risk OSA compared with control women (47% vs. 15%). However, none of the nonobese PCOS and control women screened positively for high-risk OSA. Among the obese group, the risk did not differ between groups (77% vs. 63%).


Our findings indicate that even though the risk for OSA in PCOS is high, it is related to the high prevalence of severe obesity. The risk for OSA among nonobese women with PCOS is very low. However, our findings are limited by lack of polysomnographic confirmation of OSA.

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