About PCOS

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the most common endocrine disorder of premenopausal women, and results in male hormone excess and irregular periods. It is the leading cause of hormonally-related infertility and is a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes mellitus in both adolescent and young adult women. It also often associated with obesity and risk factors for cardiovascular disease. When left untreated, it can result in endometrial cancer. PCOS has a substantial negative impact on quality of life because of the disorder’s multisystem morbidities. Clearly, PCOS is an overarching women’s health problem affecting women throughout their life span. Furthermore, since type 2 diabetes and obesity have now reached epidemic proportions in the US, and cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death in women, PCOS plays a key role in the foremost causes of death and disability in US women.  For more information regarding PCOS, please visit the following websites:  www.pcosupport.org and www.hormone.org.  For information about research study participation, call 1-800-847-6060 or e-mail pcos@northwestern.edu.

The cause of PCOS remains unknown. However, we have already found a gene region that is associated with the condition. The goals of this SCOR are to identify the gene in this region and to determine how this gene results in reproductive abnormalities and increased risk for diabetes. We have evidence that one way this gene may result in these problems is by causing a female baby to produce male hormones during pregnancy. To investigate this possibility, we will determine whether we can produce features of PCOS in animals by giving them male hormones before they are born. These studies will provide a better understanding of how PCOS develops. These studies also promise to identify a gene for PCOS, which likely also causes diabetes and obesity. This research will not only lead to new therapies but also to genetic testing for and prevention of PCOS