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

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

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

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

If the disease often develops from puberty, it is regularly detected only around 25 to 30 years in these most 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, usually not present in a female body. It is marked by the presence of many undeveloped follicles in the ovaries.

Symptoms are very variable, but the most common concern 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 inside of the thighs, depressive tendencies, anxiety or sleep apnea. sleep.

From weight gain to infertility

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

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

Unknown causes

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

Among the causes explaining the dysregulation of hormonal secretions, scientists are looking at multifactorial reasons related to genetic, epigenetic (i.e. the modification of genes due to the environment) and environmental (such as endocrine disruptors) issues.

In concrete terms, around twenty genes predisposing to the disease have been identified. Family predispositions also expose to an increased risk of 30% of developing the disease.

No specific treatment

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

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

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