Learn About PCOS Research Studies

What Are PCOS Research Studies?

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) affects 1 in 10 American women after puberty. It’s characterized by hormonal imbalances and metabolic health issues that impact appearance (causing acne, abnormal facial hair growth, and hair loss), reproductive issues (like infertility, irregular menstrual cycle, and poor ovarian health), and overall health (such as cardiovascular problems, type 2 diabetes, weight gain, and mental health issues). These symptoms are the side effects of excessive production of male hormones (androgen) in women.

These symptoms cause a lot of distress in patients, especially those struggling to conceive due to hormonal imbalance.

PCOS research studies explore potential interventions through medication, psychotherapy, and lifestyle modifications that can improve patients' quality of life.

PCOS Research Studies

Why Is PCOS Being Studied Through Research Studies?

PCOS research studies are important for identifying the comorbid conditions developing as a consequence. These include hormone-dependent cancers, type 2 diabetes, and heart diseases. Studies help medical professionals create the right diagnostic tools to detect the problem early on and treat susceptible individuals. Additionally, these studies trace the environmental, physiological, and genetic risk factors associated with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.

Current studies show the effectiveness of genomic and proteomic approaches for diagnosis for early interventions and prevention. Successful interventions can save women from experiencing chronic and life-threatening health issues experienced after they develop PCOS.

What Are The Types of Treatments Available For PCOS?

Currently, medical professionals focus on managing PCOS symptoms related to comorbid conditions. These include regulating imbalanced hormones, promoting a healthy menstrual cycle, addressing cardiovascular issues, and reducing infertility risks.

The most common treatments include:

Patients that are not planning to conceive during treatment:

  • Oral contraceptive pills. Birth pills can regulate menstrual cycles, reduce androgen levels, and improve skin health.
  • Diabetes medicines. These medicines can reduce insulin resistance in patients with PCOS. Many available pills (Metformin and spironolactone) can optimize blood sugar levels, stimulate healthy ovulation by balancing hormone production, and inhibit unwanted hair growth.
  • Lifestyle changes. These include regular physical activity and intake of well-balanced meals with nutritional supplementations. These interventions promote healthy weight, lower blood glucose levels and optimize insulin usage. They also improve cardiovascular and mental health issues associated with PCOS.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). It’s an excellent intervention for patients exhibiting signs of depression and anxiety due to the hormonal imbalance, distress, and weight gain caused by PCOS.

Patients that plan to conceive may stop birth control pills and take medications that enhance ovulation cycles.

Moreover, studies propose individualized therapy to manage varying PCOS symptoms to provide the most favorable outcomes during therapy.

What Are Some Recent Breakthrough Research Studies For PCOS?

PCOS Breakthrough Research Studies

PCOS research studies are rapidly evolving, providing professionals with new insights into detecting and managing symptoms. Recent studies focus on cardiovascular, metabolic, and depressive symptoms associated with the illness.

Here are some of the critical breakthroughs in managing and treating the endocrine disorder:

2009-2019: The Benefits of Omega-3 Supplementation for PCOS Treatment. The systematic review assesses twenty-one clinical trials and research studies conducted between 2009 to 2019. The meta-analysis determines the efficacy of omega-3 supplementation for treating women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). Researchers observed the direct and indirect health benefits of using these supplements, including reduced cholesterol levels, regulation of androgenic profile, and increased production of high-density lipoprotein. Further investigations are necessary for standardizing dosage and supplementation intake schedules to promote optimal outcomes.

2011-2022: The Benefits of Metformin Treatment. The clinical trial conducted in 2011 was one of the earliest studies on metformin as a PCOS treatment. Researchers from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology in Rome observed the effect of metformin dosage (500 mg x thrice a day) for a year in 140 obese patients with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. The long-term treatment proved highly effective in managing complications related to metabolic and reproductive issues such as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and irregular menstrual cycle, respectively.

A recent meta-analysis (2022) conducted by researchers in Brazil confirms the effectiveness of metformin treatment in patients with PCOS. After comparing the result of multiple trials in recent years, the study concludes that “metformin is a good adjunctive medication” for assisting reproduction therapies and reducing health complications in women.

2018: The Effect of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to Manage Weight Loss and Quality of Life in Patients with PCOS. The University of Pennsylvania conducted a randomized clinical trial in a tertiary care setting to determine the benefits of CBT in adjunct to lifestyle changes for managing weight gain, anxiety, and depression in women living with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). The sixteen-week trial divided participants into two groups. The first group underwent weekly CBT and lifestyle modification changes, while the second group only made lifestyle changes, such as exercising and dietary interventions. Comparative analysis of the participant's autonomic response to laboratory stressors showed a marked improvement in the patients participating in psychotherapy. Subsequently, these results indicate a “potential link” between weight loss and modulation of the stress response through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

2020: Kisspeptin Receptor Agonist Drug Trial to Treat PCOS. The research team from the Section of Endocrinology and Investigative Medicine at Imperial College London investigated the efficacy of MVT-602, a kisspeptin receptor agonist. They compared how healthy women and women experiencing infertility responded to the drug. Clinical trials show that MVT-602 has the potential to treat reproductive disorders such as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). Positive outcomes include the optimal production of Luteinizing Hormone (LH) and Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH), resulting in healthy fertility levels in every participant that took the drug.

2021: Licogliflozin As a Novel PCOS Treatment. Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) often show insulin resistance and hyperandrogenism. Endocrine specialists used a dosage of Licogliflozin (50 mg) thrice a day vs. placebo treatment to test the drug's efficacy through a two-week trial. Patients treated with licogliflozin showed significant improvement. Androgen levels were 19% low, and hyperinsulinemia was lowered by nearly 70%. That made endocrine-related PCOS relatively more manageable for patients, proving that the drug has the potential to become an effective treatment option for this specific subset of symptoms.

2021: Exploring Evidence of SGLT-2 Inhibitors as a Novel PCOS Treatment. A research article published in the World J Diabetes journal highlighted the therapeutic advantages offered by Sodium-glucose co-transporter-2 (SGLT-2) inhibitors. The article lists it as a “new class of antidiabetic agents with medicinal benefits for managing weight, cardiovascular issues, and blood sugar levels. PCOS research studies with patients using SGLT-1 inhibitors for treating diabetes and obesity show an improvement in weight management. Due to this, the new drug emerges as a good alternative for managing PCOS compared to conventional treatments such as oral contraceptive pills, metformin, and lifestyle changes.

2022: Effects of Vitamin D Supplementation on PCOS were explored through ten randomized control trials to treat PCOS symptoms. Participants were given vitamin D supplementation alone or in combination with other supplements, such as magnesium or omega-3. Researchers conclude that vitamin E show excellent potential as a treatment for endocrine disorders and does have favorable effects in reducing health concerns owing to its anti-inflammatory properties and high antioxidant content. Further investigations and studies can confirm its status as a viable intervention for managing PCOS.

2022: Role of Individually Selected Diets in Treating PCOS and Weight Gain. The meta-review examines the interrelation between Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and obesity in premenopausal women. Unhealthy weight gain in PCOS patients manifests as a clinical symptom often caused by poor digestive health and inflammatory changes. PCOS research studies focus on the importance of nutritional approaches for treatment. It explores the benefits of using selective diet plans in obese patients to support gut health by minimizing exposure to inflammatory foods and modifying eating habits to lower Body Mass Index (BMI). In addition, many researchers used probiotic/synbiotic supplements to enhance outcomes by managing insulin sensitivity and reducing inflammation. Further investigations can help medical professionals develop a healthy diet plan to manage metabolic symptoms associated with PCOS.

2022: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis on The Effect of Exercise on Cardiometabolic Comorbidities in Women with PCOS. The Australian research evaluated the effectiveness of Medium Intensity Continuous Training (MICT) and High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) on patients with PCOS. Participants actively exercised according to a strict workout routine for four weeks. Results reveal that daily exercise has the potential to “improve cardiorespiratory fitness” and maintain a healthier weight in women experiencing cardiometabolic issues caused by polycystic ovary syndrome. While it’s an effective intervention, current studies only observed symptom management for mild to moderate metabolic abnormalities. Those with severe health issues might need a different workout or more rigorous training to reduce risks.

Who Are Some Of The Key Opinion Leaders / Researchers / Institutions Conducting PCOS Research Studies?

UCSF Center for Reproductive Health is a clinic and research under the University of California San Francisco. They have a dedicated team of researchers exploring the interaction between Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and other disorders. The research initiatives focus on PCOS and depression, the efficacy of exercises for managing symptoms better, eating disorders and PCOS, and treating the disease through individualized therapies and lifestyle changes. They use clinical work and research studies to educate and train endocrinologists specializing in reproductive health and PCOS.

Elena Hoskin is the Program Manager at UCSF for the clinical research OB/GYN REI Division. As the principal investigator, she supervises research studies related to Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), ovarian aging, assisted reproductive technologies, and fertility preservation. Her extensive experience actively participating in nonprofit and academic settings helps her develop and suggest accessible initiatives for reproductive health care and interventions.

American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) was established in 1944 by fertility specialists to support research and interventions in reproductive health. The organization promotes advancement in medical science through educational programs and clinical research. They have a special division for PCOS research studies. It aims to improve the quality of reproductive care provided by professionals and affiliated facilities nationwide.

The Office on Women's Health (OWH) is a government organization under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The office started in 1991 and has since become a key player in shaping educational and healthcare programs focusing on women’s health issues. It develops new policies and supervises medical interventions and initiatives regarding PCOS treatments, fertility programs., and other healthcare options for women.