Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), which is the most common cause of female infertility, may be caused by a hormonal imbalance before birth, according to new research from the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research.
Beacon CARE Fertility, which offers fertility treatments in Ireland, has welcomed the findings of the new research, which has also offered hope that an effective treatment option may be on the horizon.
PCOS affects five to ten per cent of women, but the causes of the condition have long been a mystery. The symptoms include high levels of testosterone, ovarian cysts, irregular menstrual cycles, and problems regulating sugar.
The new research found that the syndrome may be triggered before birth by excess exposure in the womb to a hormone called anti-Müllerian hormone. The researchers discovered that pregnant women with polycystic ovary syndrome have 30 per cent higher levels of anti-Müllerian hormone than normal. The researchers proved in mice that the syndrome was passed on during pregnancy and were able to cure the condition in mice.
A drug trial is now set to begin in women later this year.
Speaking about the study, Dr. Bart Kuczera, consultant gynaecologist and leading fertility expert with Beacon CARE Fertility, said: “The exact cause of PCOS has been unknown for many years, so the findings of this research are ground-breaking as they indicate that the PCOS is indeed genetic and is triggered in the womb by excess exposure to the hormone anti-Müllerian.
“While treatments are available for helping affected women get pregnant at the moment, PCOS has no cure. As such, it was fantastic to see that the researchers were able to reverse the effect of this hormone being passed on in mice using cetrorelix, a synthetic form of a natural hormone called gonadotrophin which is used during IVF.
“I look forward to seeing the outcome of the drug trial, which may lead to greater treatment options down the line for women in Ireland suffering from PCOS.”