Scientists Believe They May Have Finally Discovered What’s Behind PCOS

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Editor’s Note: This post is not intended as medical advice. Always consult a medical professional or physician before treatment of any kind.

Thanks to new research, there may be new hope for the estimated 1 in 10 women who suffer from polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) worldwide. French scientists recently conducted a study linking the syndrome to a hormonal imbalance before birth, and the finding has led to a promising treatment that’s been tested on mice, as well as a drug trial for women that’s set to begin soon.

Paolo Giacobini and his colleagues at the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research demonstrate in a recently published paper that they believe that PCOS may be triggered by excess exposure in the womb to a hormone called anti-Müllerian hormone.

The researchers found that pregnant women with PCOS have 30 percent higher than normal levels of the anti-Müllerian hormone. So, to test their theory, scientists injected excess hormone into pregnant mice and found that their female offspring displayed many hallmark symptoms of PCOS.

With this new information, researchers think they may have also found a new treatment for PCOS in the form of an IVF drug called cetrorelix. Cetrorelix is used to control women’s hormones during a round of IVF, but when given to the mice to counteract the effect of the anti-Müllerian hormone, the drug effectively ended the symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome for the treated mice.

There is now hope that women suffering from PCOS may be treated with cetrorelix to help manage their symptoms.

“It could be an attractive strategy to restore ovulation and eventually increase the pregnancy rate in these women,” Giacobini recently told New Scientist.

The team is now planning a clinical trial of cetrorelix in women with PCOS, which they hope to start before the end of the year.

While more research still definitely needs to be done, the fact that there may be a possible treatment for the millions of women who suffer from this condition — one that requires no surgery and could potentially help with infertility, too — is nothing short of groundbreaking.

Like for many women, this means a lot to me personally. When I was trying to get pregnant for the first time, my body felt like it was fighting against me. I wasn’t having periods at all, and I was suffering from intermittent pelvic pain.

After a year of failing to get pregnant, I went to visit my doctor. I took a pregnancy test, as that was a standard practice for any office visit — and to my shock, it came back positive!

The doctor then performed an ultrasound to confirm it and to my dismay, told me that he couldn’t yet see a pregnancy — but did find two large cysts and several smaller ones. He diagnosed me with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and told me they would continue to monitor my hormones for possible pregnancy, which was later confirmed.

I was thankfully able to hold onto that pregnancy, but the symptoms of my PCOS have never gone away. Symptoms vary for women but may include irregular menstrual cycles, problems regulating sugar, excessive facial hair growth, thinning hair, ovarian cysts, and difficulties getting pregnant. In fact, PCOS is the most common cause of female infertility.

Even though I was fortunate enough to be able to get pregnant while suffering with this condition, I know of other women who have tried many treatment options and still not been able to fulfill their dream of having a baby. While the symptoms of PCOS are frustrating for me, they pale in comparison to the pain so many other women with the condition often face. I can only hope these new findings lead to further research, and a positive way forward for the millions who need it.

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