A hormone imbalance which appears to cause polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) could be reversed using a common IVF drug, according to research. A new theory about how PCOS develops while female embryos are still in the womb may offer scientists a way to treat the condition, which is thought to affect one in five women.
Researchers at the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (Inserm) say the condition, for which there is currently no cure, could be caused by over-exposure to the anti-Müllerian hormone. When high levels of the hormone are put into mice their offspring show symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), but in the latest study, scientists were able to reverse the effects with cetrorelix, a drug commonly used to control ovulation during IVF.
Pregnant women with PCOS have 30 per cent more of the hormone than normal, suggesting the condition could be passed from mother to daughter before birth. The study has been called “radical” and proposes an “attractive strategy” for boosting fertility in women with the condition, which makes it difficult to get pregnant. Scientists hope to start trials in women within a year. If successful, the breakthrough could be good news for PCOS sufferers wanting to have a baby.
Researchers think the link to the anti-Müllerian hormone could explain why women with PCOS seem to be more likely to get pregnant as they get older. Levels of the hormone are known to decline as women get older.