Is PCOS an Autoimmune Disease? What You Need to Know

Is PCOS an Autoimmune Disease

Is PCOS an Autoimmune Disease? PCOS affects all women who are of reproductive age. PCOS can be a very complex condition, but the cause remains unknown. PCOS has been linked to autoimmune diseases. In this article we explore the relationship between PCOS with autoimmune conditions.

Understanding PCOS

Before we discuss whether PCOS is an autoimmune disease, let’s understand what PCOS is. PCOS is a hormonal disorder that affects ovaries. PCOS is characterized by higher androgen levels in women. These hormones can produce a wide range of symptoms including:

  • The irregular periods
  • Heavy periods
  • Acne
  • Excessive hair growth
  • Weight gain
  • Infertility

PCOS is common and affects about 10% of women who are of reproductive age. PCOS has no known cure, however there are many treatments to help manage its symptoms.

What is Autoimmune Disease?

It is a disease in which your immune system mistakes healthy cells for invading foreign organisms. Over 80 different types autoimmune diseases exist. These include lupus (a autoimmune condition), rheumatoid arthritis, and Type 1 Diabetes.

Autoimmune conditions can affect the entire body. Symptoms vary according to the affected area. Some common autoimmune symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Joint pain or stiffness
  • Skin rashes
  • Digestive issues
  • Hair loss

Etiology of the autoimmune diseases

The immune system can mistakenly attack the body’s tissues and cause organs to be damaged [ 1]. The exact cause of the autoimmune diseases is still unknown. But there are some factors that can contribute in autoimmune diseases.

It has been proven that genetics increases the likelihood of developing an autoimmune disorder. Researchers have discovered that some genes make someone more prone to autoimmune disorders, and these genes may be passed from generation to generation [2].

Environment factors, such as infections and toxic substances, can also cause autoimmune disorders in people who are genetically vulnerable [ 3]. In some cases, certain medications like antibiotics and antiepileptics have been shown to cause autoimmune disease [9].

This is because some autoimmune disorders are linked to other medical conditions like viral infections [ 8].

Note that the underlying mechanisms of specific autoimmune disorders may be different. More researches and studies are required to completely understand the underlying mechanisms responsible for autoimmune diseases.

Similarities between PCOS and autoimmune diseases

Insulin Resistance

Both PCOS and autoimmunity diseases are characterized by insulin resistance. Insulin resistance in PCOS can result in elevated insulin levels that can trigger the production of more androgens by the ovaries [1]. Insulin resistance is a common occurrence in autoimmune disorders. This can be due to chronic inflammation, cytokines and insulin signaling interference.

Chronic Inflammation

Both PCOS and autoimmunity diseases are characterized by chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation in PCOS can cause insulin resistance, and increase the production of androgens. Chronic inflammation can be caused by an immune system overactive that attacks tissues and organs of the body.

Risk factors shared by both parties

The risk factors for PCOS and autoimmunity diseases are similar. These include obesity, genetics, and environment factors. For example, obesity is linked to increased insulin resistance, chronic inflammation, and PCOS. Both conditions may be affected by genetic factors. Certain genes are linked with both PCOS [ and] autoimmune diseases.


PCOS as well a autoimmune disorders involve chronic inflammation. PCOS can be characterized by low-grade chronic inflammation due to insulin resistance or high levels of androgens. These factors contribute to metabolic complications and cardiovascular issues. Similar to autoimmune disorders, these are also characterized by an excessive immune system which causes tissue damage and inflammation.

Hormonal Imbalance

PCOS is characterized by hormonal imbalances. PCOS causes irregular menstrual cycles, ovarian cysts and infertility due to high insulin resistance and androgens. In Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, for example, the immune system attacks the glands responsible for producing hormones.

Overlap in symptoms

PCOS shares some of the same symptoms as autoimmune disease, like fatigue, increased weight, and changes in mood. As an example, PCOS can increase the risk for developing thyroid autoimmune disease. This condition is characterized by fatigue and increased weight. In the same way, other autoimmune conditions such as lupus (also known as arthritis) and rheumatoid can also cause hormonal imbalances. This leads to irregular cycles and problems with fertility.

PCOS and Immune System| Is PCOS an Autoimmune Disease?

PCOS is a hormonal condition that causes irregular periods, infertility issues, increased weight, and many other symptoms. Recent studies have suggested that PCOS could be linked to autoimmunity. This occurs when your immune system attacks your own body cells.[1] One study found high levels of antibodies against ovarian cells in PCOS women, suggesting a link between PCOS and immune cells [1]. More research is required to understand the relationship between PCOS and immune cells.

High estrogen levels before birth can affect the function of the thyroid gland and lead to autoimmune disease [2]. A second theory suggests that obesity is associated with PCOS and can lead to an altered immune metabolism, increasing pro-inflammatory T H1 and TH17 immune cells.[3]

PCOS does not currently qualify as an autoimmune disorder, despite its similarities to autoimmune disorders. Understanding the possible connection between PCOS, and autoimmunity can lead to better diagnosis and treatment of this condition.[4]

Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis (autoimmune thyroid diseases) has been diagnosed in 18-40% PCOS patients, which is three times higher than the general population. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis results from an immune disorder resulting in chronic inflammation and/or a hyperactive thyroid gland.

Hashimoto’s can be detected with thyroid antibodies (TSH alone will not suffice). Due to the growing link between HA, PCOS and autoantibodies specific for thyroid glands, all PCOS patients should have their thyroid function tested and they must also be screened without any evidence of overt dysfunction.

A study published in the IJMR explain the multifaceted nature of the disorder and shows that PCOS has many different components. The metabolic, inflammatory, and autoimmune factors including obesity-related markers and oxidative stresses cytokines are plays an important role in the pathology of PCOS.

One theory proposes that the inflammatory response leads to an abnormal production of cytokines, which will then lead to biochemical changes that are overt in PCOS. A high concentration of antiovarian antibodies suggests that immune reaction is associated with PCOS.[5] Immune molecules play a direct role in immune response and have a variety of biological functions that are linked to many of the pathological changes associated with PCOS.[6]

Conclusion: Although more research is required to understand the relationship between PCOS, and autoimmunity fully, there are some current findings that suggest a possible link. This could be due to high estrogen levels or an altered immunometabolism associated with obesity. This relationship may provide valuable insights into PCOS’s underlying mechanisms and help to improve management.

PCOS and Autoimmune Diseases

PCOS has been linked to autoimmune diseases. Researchers from the Journal of Reproductive Immunology published an article that showed women with PCOS were more likely to have certain antibodies present in their blood. These are often found in those suffering from autoimmune conditions. These antibodies can cause damage to the ovaries by attacking them.

One study, published in Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism in 2010, found that PCOS women had elevated levels of a certain protein called C reactive protein (CRP), produced by the body in response to an inflammation. Also, CRP is elevated in many autoimmune diseases.

What Does It Mean?

Although these studies hint that PCOS might be an auto-immune disease, further research is needed in order confirm this. You should also be aware that women with PCOS may not have any autoimmune marker in their blood.

It is possible that certain women with PCOS have a underlying immune dysfunction. That could explain the fact that many women with PCOS have other autoimmune disease, like type 1 diabetics or thyroid problems.

Does PCOS weaken your immune system?

Women with PCOS have higher androgen levels, which can reduce immunity. In one women’s study, the CD8+T cells were down by 64%. It is crucial because CD8+ T cells are important for regulating adaptive immunity (acquired).

PCOS can cause immune response weakness due to the elimination of homeostasis (balance) of the immune system.

Treatment of PCOS

PCOS could be treated differently if it was an autoimmune illness. PCOS treatment focuses on managing symptoms. These include reducing acne and controlling weight. Treatments that suppress the immunity may help if PCOS turns out to be an autoimmune illness.


PCOS can be a complicated disorder which impacts many women. PCOS may not have a known cause, but certain evidence suggests it might be an auto-immune disease but Is PCOS an Autoimmune Disease or not It will take more research to confirm that, however the results of these studies point towards an underlying immune dysfunction among some PCOS-affected women. PCOS could be treated differently if the condition is autoimmune. Also, immune-suppressing treatments may help.


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Can PCOS cause other autoimmune diseases?

PCOS could be related to other autoimmune disease, such as diabetes type 1, thyroid disorder or thyroid cancer.

Is there a cure for PCOS?

Currently, there is no cure for PCOS, but there are treatments available to manage the symptoms.

How is PCOS diagnosed?

PCOS is usually diagnosed based on a combination of symptoms, physical examination, and blood tests.
In conclusion, while PCOS is a complex disorder with no known cure, there is evidence to suggest that it may be an autoimmune disease. More research is needed to confirm this, but the findings of these studies suggest that there may be an underlying immune dysfunction in some women with PCOS. If PCOS is an autoimmune disease, the treatment may be different than if it is not, and treatments that suppress the immune system may be beneficial. If you think you may have PCOS, it is important to speak with your healthcare provider for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.

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