It’s in the genes

It is a near universal finding that PCOS is genetic, but the heritage is complex. This genetic predisposition is not as simple as brown eyes or blue. The tendency to develop PCOS may be of be inherited from either the mother’s side (maternal origin), from the fathers side (paternal origin), or from both sides. A paternal origin is equally likely, but often is overlooked. Also, various characteristic traits of PCOS may be passed down with varying degrees of severity. It is quite possible that PCOS is inherited as a small group of genes in which some are involved in glucose regulation and others in ovarian hormone production. Both groups may be necessary for an individual to develop PCOS. In addition, there may be the interaction of diet and other environmental factors that may worsen or improve the problems associated with PCOS. A particularly important point in the PCOS patient’s history is whether family members have had similar problems. While PCOS is inherited, the more serious diseases that may masquerade as PCOS, such as tumors of the pituitary, adrenal, and ovary, are not. It is often distressing when a woman with PCOS learns that she may pass on the condition to her daughters, or through her son, to her granddaughters. As new tools made available by molecular biology enable significant advances in the genetics of PCOS during the next several years and beyond, PCOS may become a problem of the past.

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