When it comes to female infertility, the most common culprit is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. This condition affects 1 in 5 women, of whom 75% experience infertility. PCOS affects fertility by increasing the levels of testosterone, creating ovarian cysts, causing irregularities in the menstrual cycle and misregulation of sugar. This is truly a catastrophic disease, however this may not be the case for so long.
Sufferers of PCOS usually have higher counts of a hormone known as ‘Anti Mullerian Hormone’ (AMH). It must be stated now that this is sort of a chicken – egg scenario, as the scientific community are still investigating which causes the other. Does high AMH levels cause PCOS or vice versa.
For the unacquainted with fertility terminology, the Mullerian system is the fancy scientific term for female sexual anatomy. Male sexual anatomy, on the other hand, is referred to as the ‘Wolffian’ system. In human development, the Wolffian system emerges from the Mullerian system after AMH is introduced. The name says it all. AMH is Anti Mullerian, so it transforms the developing region into male anatomy through chemical signalling. So can this well known fact uncover the secret behind PCOS?
Dr. Paolo Giacobini and his team at the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research noticed that women with PCOS had 30% higher rates of AMH than healthy, normal levels. So, they introduced AMH to lab mice and observed that all the classic PCOS symptoms developed. So this suggests that AMH is a potential cause of PCOS. Afterwards, they took to curing these mice. A popular IVF drug, Cetrorelix (brand name Cetrotide), was administered and proved successful. This treatment will be tested on humans later this year.
The team states that the real trouble with this disease is that it can be passed genetically from the mother to her offspring. So it’s always been very tough to determine the actual physiological origin of the disease. PCOS has been quite the enigma for the world of Gynaecology, but hopefully this human trial can shed some light.