Polycystic ovary syndrome is largely a hormonal disorder which has become increasingly common in women of reproductive age. Also known as PCOS there are several common symptoms such infrequent as well as prolonged menstrual periods. Some women with Polycystic ovary syndrome also experience excess production of androgenic hormones, which are largely responsible for the development of masculine features. As PCOS develops the female ovaries fail to release eggs on a regular basis.

Early research into the exact cause of Polycystic ovary syndrome has yielded few results. Past studies have found that with early diagnosis and professional treatment in conjunction with weight loss can help reduce the long-term risk of complications while also helping reduce medical issues related to type 2 diabetes as well as heart disease risk.

What Are The Early Signs And Symptoms Of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?

With PCOS common signs and symptoms tend to develop around the time of the female’s first menstrual cycle in early adolescence. However, for some individuals, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome might develop later in life. With many of these cases, it occurs after substantial weight gain.

When diagnosing PCOS most physicians look for at least two of the following signs or symptoms:

Menstrual Cycle Irregularities which might involve things such as irregular periods or prolonged menstrual cycles. This could manifest as fewer than nine periods a given calendar year, as well as more than 35 days elapsing between menstrual cycles. Abnormally heavy periods may also be considered a possible symptom of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.

Excess Androgen revealed in blood tests. Elevated levels of typically male hormones can potentially manifest in physical ways such as hirsutism which develops as increased facial and body hair as well as occasionally severe acne. Some females with increased levels of androgenic hormones will also develop alopecia or so-called male-pattern baldness.

Enlarged or Swollen Ovaries can also be a common sign of polycystic ovaries. This can be due to functional issues with the ovaries as well as complications with ovulation.

Many of the common signs and symptoms of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome can be more severe if you are obese. They can also newly develop if you have recently gained a significant amount of weight.

What Other Factors Contribute To PCOS

In the past, the underlying cause of PCOS has been largely unknown. However, there are several factors which are known to be related to some degree. This includes things like:

Excess Insulin produced in the pancreas. It is intended to help cells to use sugar, which is the body’s primary energy supply. If cells become insulin-resistant, then your blood sugar levels can increase, which further causes your body to produce more insulin. Excess insulin has been linked in the past to androgen production which can lead to ovulation complications.

New Research Sheds Light On A Possible Genetic Cause Of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Until recently the underlying causes of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome were either unknown or largely speculated, based on the commonality of symptoms as well as other things like lifestyle factors. However, new research conducted by the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, New York has found potential genetic evidence of a cause for PCOS. It spreads hope that further research may be able to find a cure or more effective treatment options for symptom abatement.

Their study approached the problem using a family-based analysis model that attempted to use the entire genome sequences for members of 62 families with a known history of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. The study included both parents as well as one or more of their daughters who were at a viable reproductive-age and had been previously diagnosed with PCOS.

The data sample also included other daughters in the family sequence who had been previous unaffected by PCOS or its early symptoms. At that point, the researchers were able to determine which genes contained certain genetic variants which could potentially damage a woman’s ovaries.

The end results showed that there are rare genetic variants in a gene known as DENND1A which can contribute to Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. This gene is known to be involved in testosterone production. The research showed that it was present in over half of the affected families. This degree of heightened testosterone levels is relatively typical in women who have been diagnosed with PCOS. There were specifically two variants in the DENND1A gene which clearly showed specific traits that are related to Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.

Contributing researchers from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, in Chicago, Illinois expressed their hope that the results could help uncover hereditary mechanisms as well as molecular drivers of PCOS. This could help improve treatment strategies, treatment outcomes, and possible improvements in fertility rates for individuals who have been diagnosed with PCOS.

What Does The Future Hold For Women Diagnosed With Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?

The study’s findings were published in the prestigious Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. It notes that the results will facilitate earlier diagnosis, for more targeted treatments and might also lead to further research in finding an effective cure. At the very least, being able to test for genetic markers will allow physicians and other specialists in the field to identify at-risk females before adolescence.

Being able to understand the clear genetic pathways that are involved, might allow specialists in the field to develop pharmaceutical options that target them. It might also prove that the gene variants they have discovered are mainly in the parts of DENND1A, which is also responsible for regulating the amount that is produced in certain tissues and other structures.

Source – BioNews

AND Mayoclinic