Scientists discover why women get polycystic ovary syndrome

May 15, 2018

Polycystic ovaries are the most common cause of fertility issues in women. CREDIT: SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

A hormonal imbalance before birth could be causing women to later develop polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) which leads to infertility, scientists have discovered.

‘New Scientist’ reported May 14 that scientists have found a cure in mice and a drug trial is set to begin later this year.

One in five women in the world gets PCOS and 75% of them struggle to get pregnant. If you have PCOS you probably have high levels of the hormone testosterone, ovarian cysts, irregular periods, and problems regulating sugar.

But the cause of PCOS has been a mystery up until now.

It is the most common hormone problem in women.

There are treatments to help women with PCOS get pregnant but they are only less than 30% successful across five menstrual cycles.

Now the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research has found that PCOS may be triggered before birth by excess exposure in the womb to a hormone called anti-Müllerianhormone.

Researchers discovered that pregnant women with polycystic ovary syndrome have 30% higher levels of the anti-Müllerian hormone than normal. They injected excess anti-Müllerian hormone into pregnant mice. As their female offspring grew up, they displayed many signs of PCOS. Signs of PCOS include: later puberty, infrequent ovulation, delays in falling pregnant, and fewer offspring.

The excess hormone seemed to trigger this effect by overstimulating a set of brain cells that raise the level of testosterone.

The researchers were able to reverse this effect in mice using cetrorelix, an IVF drug that controls women’s hormones. The mice stopped showing PCOS symptoms.

The research was published in Nature Medicine.