Researchers spent two years following adolescent girls diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and made some exciting discoveries that could impact the future of how this fertility-limiting disease is treated.
PCOS is characterized by an overproduction of the hormone androgen in the body. The result is an excess of mid-section fat, unwanted body hair in inappropriate places, and, most notably, failure to ovulate. Women with PCOS will still produce follicles on their ovaries, but their bodies will never release the matured egg into the fallopian tube for fertilization. When the follicle doesn’t release the egg, it turns into a cyst that goes on to produce additional androgen, making it increasingly less likely that the patient will be able to ovulate as time goes on.
An incredibly common affliction of American women, some doctors estimate up to 10% of all American women suffer from PCOS. Doctors estimate that as many as 50% of women who have PCOS may not even know they have it. PCOS is purportedly the most common cause of female infertility in the USA today.
Researchers in Barcelona decided to study the disease in adolescent females who were not yet sexually active. They created two groups for study; an active group and a control group. They randomized the patients and offered the active group a new treatment aimed at reducing abdominal, liver, and visceral fats in an effort to restore regular ovulation. This medication was offered in conjunction with an oral contraceptive, a known treatment method that has shown promise in regulating androgen. Members of the control group were given just the oral contraceptive.
Participants were advised to follow a regular, normal exercise routine and consume a Mediterranean diet.
Recipients were monitored for 12 months as they followed medical protocol, and then for an additional 12 months following the treatment. Researchers found that those taking the new medication, called SPIOMET, were able to normalize more fat reserves than those on the oral contraceptive alone. In addition, those on the medication also returned to a more normalized ovulation schedule and noted higher indicators for cardiovascular health as well.
Compared against the control group, those on the new drug yielded a 2.5x higher rate of ovulation and a 6x higher rate of normalized ovulation. Impressively, their likelihood of having irregular ovulation dropped by 65%! The best results were seen in the participants who lost the highest amounts of fat.
Results from the study were presented at the 2017 Endocrine Society meeting in Orlando, Florida. For the time being, the drug has only been tested on adolescent females. However, with more research, there is hope that this drug, or others like it, may be able to offer hope to adult women with PCOS who are trying to become pregnant as well.