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NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

Some Women with PCOS May Have Adrenal Disorder

A subgroup of women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a leading cause of infertility, may produce excess adrenal hormones, according to an early study by researchers at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and other institutions.

PCOS is a group of symptoms related to high levels of hormones known as androgens. In many women with the condition, the ovaries contain numerous small, cyst-like sacs. Women with PCOS may have irregular, missing or prolonged menstrual periods, excessive facial and body hair, insulin resistance and problems with fertility. Treatment may include drugs that block androgens and oral contraceptives, which contain the hormones estrogen and progesterone.

“Traditionally, treatment for PCOS has included modifying ovarian hormones,” said Dr. Constantine Stratakis of NICHD and senior author of the study. “Our findings indicate that a subgroup of patients could conceivably benefit from modification of adrenal hormones as well.”

The study was published online in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. The study’s first author is Dr. Evgenia Gourgari of Georgetown University, who was a research fellow at NICHD when the study was conducted.

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