What really causes polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)? Millions of women all over the world are affected by the condition, and researchers may have finally found the cause and treatment for it.
Cause Of PCOS Revealed
In the United States, as many as 5 million women are affected by PCOS, but its actual cause has eluded the medicine world even if it was first described by Italian physician Antonio Vallisneri as early as 1721. Now, researchers believe that they have found what really causes the condition.
Researchers of the new study published in the journal Nature Medicine measured the hormone levels of pregnant women with and without PCOS, and found that pregnant women who have PCOS have 30 percent higher levels of an anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH) than normal. As PCOS can be hereditary, researchers tested to see whether such high levels of AMH in the womb could result in the fetus to have the same condition.
To test this, researchers injected pregnant mice with high levels of AMH and followed the development of their offspring postnatally. What they found was the offspring of the mice injected with high levels of AMH eventually developed excess testosterone and other PCOS symptoms such as late puberty, fewer offspring, and infrequent ovulation.
Researchers surmise that this could be why it has been so difficult to find the specific cause of PCOS, as it was being passed from mother to daughter via hormones while still inside the womb.
Possible Cure Being Tested
With a new way of looking at PCOS, researchers also thought up a possible treatment for the condition in the form of cetrorelix, an IVF drug that's used to control women's hormones. Amazingly, when the mice with PCOS were treated with cetrorelix, they stopped exhibiting the symptoms of the condition.
As such, researchers are hoping to test cetrorelix on women with PCOS by the end of the year. This way, normal ovulation may be restored, and pregnancy rates in these women may rise. So far, it has been observed that women with PCOS tend to get pregnant more easily in their late 30s and early 40s, possibly because AMH declines with age.
Leading Cause Of Infertility
PCOS is the leading cause of infertility among women worldwide. It is marked by a group of symptoms that affect the process of ovulation, but its main features are the presence of growths in the ovary, high levels of male hormones, and irregular or skipped menstrual periods. In this condition, the ovary or ovaries develop multiple fluid-filled sacs that contain immature eggs that do not mature for ovulation.
PCOS affects between 2.2 and 26.7 percent of women in their childbearing years. In fact, many women may be living with PCOS and not even know it. But apart from the condition's effects on fertility, PCOS may also contribute to health problems such as heart disease and diabetes.