June 4, 2004 -- The most common hormone problem facing women of childbearing age is polycystic ovary syndrome, researchers report.
A study of Alabama job applicants indicates that 6.6% of U.S. women may have the problem.
"Polycystic ovary syndrome is one of the most common and important [hormonal] abnormalities of women," conclude Ricardo Azziz, MD, MPH, MBA, of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, and colleagues.
Their report appears in the June issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.
Women with polycystic ovary syndrome may have many small cysts around the edges of their ovaries.
Nobody knows what causes it. But the result is clear: The women's bodies make too many of the male hormones known as androgen. This can lead to a wide range of problems, including:
- Male-pattern body hair
- Menstrual irregularities
- Skin problems such as acne
- An increased risk for endometrial cancer
- Type 2 diabetes
- Heart disease
Unfortunately, not all women with the condition get proper diagnosis. They simply do not know that their acne, weight problems, unusual body hair, and/or fertility trouble is related to a treatable problem. Proper diagnosis and hormonal treatment can greatly reduce most women's symptoms.
Azziz, now chair of the Cedars-Sinai department of obstetrics and gynecology, led the study while still a faculty member at the University of Alabama, Birmingham.