What's in a name? For PCOS, not much.


A panel of experts brought together by the National Institutes of Health has concluded that the name of a common hormone disorder in women, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), causes confusion and is a barrier to research progress and effective patient care. The current name centers around a condition of the disease – ovarian cysts – which may or may not be part of a woman’s experience with the disease.

The impedes progress

“The name PCOS is a distraction that impedes progress. It is time to assign a name that reflects the complex interactions that characterize the syndrome. The right name will enhance recognition of this issue and assist in expanding research support,” explained Dr. Robert A. Rizza, panel member and professor of medicine at the Mayo clinic in Rochester, MN.

Common but not very well understood

PCOS is a very common disorder, often undiagnosed, which affects approximately five million reproductive-aged women. These women have difficulty conceiving due to hormone imbalance. Often other symptoms such as irregular or nonexistent menstrual cycle, acne, weight gain, excessive facial or body hair, thinning scalp hair and/or ovarian cysts. Women with PCOS are also more likely to have type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

Causes, risks and treatments not well defined

Some studies suggest a strong genetic component to eh disease while other studies find environmental factor may play a key role. The panel made recommendations for further study to determine factors that exacerbate genetic predisposition. They also determine a need for additional research into risks and treatments.

More information necessary; a new name may help clarify

“Additional studies are needed to identify new treatments that address the most common symptoms women face, such as weight gain and difficulty becoming pregnant. We also need studies to determine a woman’s risk for cardiovascular and other complications and if treatment can reduce these risks,” said Dr. Pamela Ouyang, director of the Women’s Cardiovascular Health Center at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore.

Source: MedicalNewsToday, NIH


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