BATON ROUGE (WAFB) - A study from LSU's Pennington Biomedical Research Center tackles one of the most common problems for women when it comes to fertility. It is a condition called "Polycystic Ovary Syndrome" or PCOS.
When she was a young teen, Grace Pickering was diagnosed with PCOS. It is a condition that affects one out of 14 women worldwide, causing hormonal imbalances and irregular periods. Dr. Leanne Redman directs the Reproductive Endocrinology and Women's Health Lab at Pennington. In the PULSE study, she is looking at how a woman's weight affects her fertility.
"For ladies, they start to accumulate excess body fat in regions that they don't want it and they develop insulin resistance. Those are the metabolic things that but what happens that's probably the most important for women is that they can become infertile," Redman said.
At 26, Pickering is not quite ready to start a family, but she is concerned about how her PCOS will affect her ability to have kids.
"I knew that when I was ready it would be an issue," she said, "my mother also had PCOS and she had lots of issues getting pregnant with me."
Because of that, Pickering enrolled in the PULSE study at Pennington. Researchers are looking to see if losing weight or improving insulin resistance can help regulate menstrual cycles and improve fertility. "I developed this program with the National Institutes of Health to try and understand what happens to the body when start to get your cycles back. What's changing in your brain? What's changing with the hormones?" said Redman.
Participants are randomly assigned to one of four programs: an exercise program, like Pickering, a diet program, an insulin medication program or the control group.
"We have an opportunity because we're offering a program of lifestyle change, diet change, exercise and those things to really help change behaviors of women for their family members and themselves," said Redman.
The study is looking for 50 women between the ages of 20 and 40 with irregular menstrual cycles to participate. Once the slots are filled, the women will be followed for six months.
Click here for more information on the PULSE study.