Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Senior Honors Thesis


Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminology

First Advisor

Megan K. Moore

Second Advisor

Julian Murchison


The purpose of this pilot study is to determine the systemic effects of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) on bone mineral density (BMD). Excessive male sex honnones, excessive insulin levels, and weight gain characterize PCOS, and are correlated to increased BMD. PCOS is also associated with symptoms and comorbid conditions, like chronic vitamin D deficiency, menstrual dysfunction, and hypothyroidism, which are all correlated with decreased BMD. Existing research on this topic reports conflicting results; some studies show a significant correlation between PCOS and increased BMD, while others suggest that no significant correlation exists. These previous studies focused on load-bearing areas of the skeleton, which may obscure results because of a strong correlation between PCOS and high body mass indices (BMI). The current study uses full-body, dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) scans to compare the cranial bone and total BMD of 18 to 45 year old, non-smoking subjects with PCOS with healthy, age- and BMl-matched controls. The present study found that cranial bone BMD is a region of the skeleton that is not affected by mechanical loading, and is a useful metric for assessing systemic changes to BMD. Secondly, a significant, positive correlation between age and cranial BMD was observed in the PCOS sample that was not observed in the control sample. Finally, no correlation was observed between cranial BMD and total BMD in the PCOS sample, but was observed in the control sample. These results suggest that PCOS has a systemic effect on BMD independent of weight.