Polycystic ovary syndrome…a great suffering for many women

Written By Mark

Ovarian cysts affect the lives of many women, causing acne, excessive hair growth, and infertility. After years of research, a treatment that directly targets this syndrome has not yet been found, although a recent study raises hope of finding a final solution to it.

The study conducted by a Chinese team and published in mid-June in the prestigious journal Science confirms that “there are only limited possibilities for treating ovarian cysts.”

The study provides a promising way to treat this syndrome, which does not receive relatively much media attention, even though it affects about one in 10 women and causes symptoms that are often painful and exhausting.

Polycystic ovary syndrome occurs due to excessive production of male hormones and the presence of more than normal amounts. It is called a follicle, not a cyst, as the name suggests, on the ovaries.

In practice, this imbalance translates into problems for many patients, most notably acne, hair loss, excessive hair growth, and so on. This syndrome increases the possibility of infertility, even if it does not completely prevent them from having children, in addition to increasing the possibility of developing diabetes.

Current treatments target symptoms only. To respond to physical effects, for example, birth control pills containing the female hormones estrogen and progesterone are prescribed.

The new study addresses the possibility of a basic treatment that would directly limit the ovaries’ production of male hormones. To reduce these hormones, the researchers used a common anti-malarial drug, artemisinin, and noticed a general improvement in the cases of about 20 patients.

The medical community welcomed these results, although they are preliminary, as to confirm whether artemisinin actually works against polycystic ovary syndrome, it is necessary to test it on a large number of other patients and compare the results with a placebo.

The disorder is becoming more well known

Although the results of the study are preliminary, this research is important because, after years of research, patients have not seen any tangible progress that could benefit them.

Speaking to Agence France-Presse, endocrinologist Elisabeth Steiner-Victorin, one of the world’s leading experts on this syndrome, said, “There are still many things we do not know, but we cannot say that progress does not exist.”

On the one hand, the physiological mechanisms of the syndrome are better known, and its diagnosis has been improved and more accurate. Finally, its negative effects on health have become more precise, and these effects include cardiovascular problems and effects on mental health, which were neglected a few years ago.

But there are things that are still unclear. For example, it is not yet known when the syndrome takes root in the ovaries themselves, or leads to a malfunction in the nervous system.

Last year, international experts developed a comprehensive summary to review knowledge about polycystic ovary syndrome and provide guidance to doctors on the topic. The medical community struggles to provide definitive answers to many aspects of the syndrome.

There is agreement on the need to improve the lifestyle of patients, especially those who suffer from excess weight. But the study also points to a lack of data to know exactly what should be recommended in terms of diet and physical activity.