Pain, acne, hairiness… What is PCOS, this little-known disease that affects one in ten women?

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Polycystic ovary syndrome, which this Thursday is World Awareness Day, is a hormonal imbalance with various symptoms. It is the leading cause of female infertility.

A fairly common and potentially disabling disease, but little known. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which affects one in ten women worldwide, is the leading cause of female infertility, according to Inserm. We return to this syndrome for which there is no specific treatment, while this Thursday is World PCOS Awareness Day.

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Although the disease often develops from puberty, it is regularly detected only around the age of 25 to 30 in these more moderate cases, thanks to a blood and hormonal test, according to Ameli.

hormonal imbalance

Polycystic ovary syndrome is a hormonal imbalance that leads to excessive production of male hormones, including testosterone, which is not usually present in the female body. It is characterized by the presence of many undeveloped follicles in the ovaries.

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The symptoms are very variable, but the most common refer to ovulation disorders (ranging from irregular cycles to the total absence of menstruation), hyperandrogenism, marked by hyperpilosity (in 70% of women affected by the disease) , acne and hair loss, as well as metabolic disorders that can cause overweight.

Other symptoms were also noted less frequently, such as the appearance of dark spots on the neck, under the arms or on the inner thighs, depressive tendencies, anxiety or sleep apnea.

From weight gain to infertility

The consequences of the syndrome are not trivial. For about half of patients, the disorder causes infertility. For pregnant patients, pregnancy often presents complications with more frequent cases of gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia or preterm delivery.

In case of weight gain, patients are also predisposed to demonstrate insulin resistance and later to develop diabetes, but also to experience high blood pressure and develop cardiovascular disease or endometrial cancer.

Unknown causes

The origins of PCOS are not clearly established so far, but the hormonal imbalance that causes the disease could be of both ovarian and central origin, that is, at the level of the brain.

Among the causes that explain the dysregulation of hormonal secretions, scientists are looking for multifactorial reasons related to genetic, epigenetic (that is, gene modification due to the environment) and environmental (such as endocrine disruptors) problems.

Specifically, twenty genes predisposing to the disease have been identified. Familial predispositions also expose you to a 30% increased risk of developing the disease.

No specific treatment

There is no specific treatment to cure the disease. The only existing treatments can relieve symptoms until the onset of menopause.

The drugs are used in particular to treat cases of hirsutism, diabetes and infertility. It is also recommended, only for people who are overweight, to lose weight to reduce the symptoms of hyperandrogenism.

Author: Juliette Desmonceaux
Source: BFM TV

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