PCOS; Common Causes and its Genetic Aspect
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome PCOS is a common female hormonal disorder. With up to 1 in 10 women suffering from this chronic condition, it is prevailing day by day. The ovaries are unable to perform their functions properly. This leads to anovulatory monthly cycles in women with PCOS.
Multiple cysts develop on the ovaries because the follicles are triggered to grow and mature but the eggs are unable to be released. Hence every month these follicles grow and sustain on the ovaries in the form of multiple cysts.
PCOS patients can experience a variety of symptoms that include:
Excessive body hair (Hirsutism)
Unintentional Weight gain
Acne and Oily skin
Scanty or very heavy blood flow
Discolored patches on the neck, underarms, and groin
Since PCOS is a complex disease, several investigations are required to reach the diagnosis. This includes family and medical history, general physical examination, pelvic examination, ultrasonography, and some blood hormonal tests.
What Causes PCOS?
As far as the actual reason and cause of PCOS, it is still yet to be discovered. However, some risk factors are considered as the causes of PCOS so far. Let's discuss them briefly.
A disturbed hormonal rhythm is considered the main cause of PCOS. While we don't know what causes these hormones to get unbalanced, we are not sure of the main culprit resulting in this condition.
Typically, the male hormone; testosterone which is present in women in very small amounts are significantly raised in patients with PCOS.
Another important hormone, insulin is also raised in PCOS patients. This occurs due to a condition called, “Insulin resistance”, where the body is unable to utilize the insulin produced by it. Hence the body detects it as a lack of insulin and thus continues to produce more and more insulin hormones.
The female reproductive hormones like estrogen, progesterone, FSH, and LH also become unbalanced. Resultantly, the monthly cycles and reproductive well-being are badly affected in patients with PCOS.
PCOS causes obesity and it is the same the other way around i.e Obesity also increases the risk of getting PCOS. Hence lifestyle and dietary habits are also considered a key factor for causing PCOS.
A sedentary lifestyle and eating habits can result in weight gain and high insulin levels which can gradually cause PCOS incidence.
Hereditary factor is also considered responsible for PCOS. This is because studies have observed increased occurrence of PCOS in daughters and blood relations of PCOS patients.
Is PCOS a Hereditary Disease?
There is very less known about the hereditary aspect of PCOS. The genetic correlation of PCOS is still debatable. However, a number of studies have found an increased incidence of PCOS in blood relations of PCOS patients. One such study shows that the rate of occurrence of PCOS in mothers and sisters of patients with PCOS was 24% and 32% respectively. This is a significantly high rate and it certainly demonstrates some link between genetics and PCOS.
Hence it is deduced that there is a hereditary factor in PCOS occurrence.
Role of Genetics in PCOS
Stats like the above-mentioned ones suggest a correlation between PCOS with genetics. This has led to a lot of researchers diving into this gravely. But, there isn’t a clear inheritance pattern for PCOS found yet.
PCOS is certainly a multifactorial disease, which means there can be several causes of PCOS, however, the gene precisely resulting in this condition and probably being passed into the generation is still not found.
PCOS and AMH
The main function of Anti-mullerian hormone is during pregnancy. It ensures the development of male and female genital organs in male and female fetuses respectively during pregnancy.
A study conducted in 2018 proposed the increased Anti-mullerian hormone (AMH) in mothers during pregnancy as a cause of PCOS in the child. This means that the patients of PCOS might have inherited this disease during their embryonic life due to increased AMH levels in their expecting mothers.
Talking about the genetic and hereditary aspects of PCOS, we still lack data and literature. However, since there exists a possible correlation of genes with PCOS, it is highly recommended to keep a keen eye on PCOS symptoms if you are at risk of developing this condition due to its presence in the family.
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