Press Release Meetings & Events

Genetic evidence suggests men can develop PCOS-like condition

Washington, DC March 20, 2021

Study indicates PCOS may not be primarily a female reproductive disorder

New genetic research suggests men can develop characteristics of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)—a common metabolic and reproductive disorder that affects women. The study was presented virtually at ENDO 2021, the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting.

PCOS is a common disorder characterized by irregular menstrual periods, disruption of normal metabolism and elevated testosterone levels. PCOS affects up to 10% of all women of reproductive age. The disorder can lead to obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, which are often life-long conditions.

Men who have genetic risk factors for PCOS face an increased risk of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease as well as male pattern baldness, the study found.

Because men do not have ovaries, the findings show for the first time that the primary cause of PCOS may not be linked to the ovaries.

“The treatment of PCOS is limited by our incomplete understanding of the disorder,” said lead researcher Jia Zhu, M.D., of Boston Children’s Hospital. “Identifying the different causes for PCOS provides insights into the mechanisms of disease and is the first step in identifying future targets for treatment of the disorder.” 

The researchers used genetic data from 176,360 men in the United Kingdom to estimate genetic susceptibility for PCOS. They tested for associations with metabolic disorders (obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease) and male-pattern baldness. Men who had a high genetic risk score for PCOS had increased risk of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and male-pattern baldness. 

“By demonstrating that genetic risk factors for PCOS are associated with obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease and male-pattern baldness in men, we show that these genetic risk factors do not require ovaries to result in the characteristics of PCOS,” Zhu said. “Thus, at least in some cases, the reproductive dysfunction of PCOS may be caused by biological mechanisms common to both men and women. Future studies of the genetic risk factors for PCOS could help us to better understand the causes and potential treatment targets for PCOS.”

About Endocrine Society

Endocrinologists are at the core of solving the most pressing health problems of our time, from diabetes and obesity to infertility, bone health, and hormone-related cancers. The Endocrine Society is the world’s oldest and largest organization of scientists devoted to hormone research and physicians who care for people with hormone-related conditions.

The Society has more than 18,000 members, including scientists, physicians, educators, nurses and students in 122 countries. To learn more about the Society and the field of endocrinology, visit our site at www.endocrine.org. Follow us on Twitter at @TheEndoSociety and @EndoMedia.

Media Contacts

Colleen Williams Manager, Public Relations Phone: (202)-971-3611 [email protected]

Jenni Glenn Gingery Associate Director, Communications and Media Relations Phone: (202)-971-3655 [email protected]

All News & Advocacy

Hill Event
Patient Resources

The Hormone Health Network

Hormone Health Network
From bench to bedside and all the stages in between, the Hormone Health Network is committed to supporting patient and public education.

From bench to bedside and all the stages in between, the Hormone Health Network is committed to supporting patient and public education.

Podcast

Endocrine News Podcast

EndocrineNewsPodcast
The Endocrine News podcast brings you the latest research and clinical advances from experts in the field, whether you are in your car, office, or out for a run.

The Endocrine News podcast brings you the latest research and clinical advances from experts in the field, whether you are in your car, office, or out for a run.

Bench to Bedside

Endocrine Society Journals

Research
Our top-ranked peer-reviewed journals are among the first to publish major developments and discovery milestones.

Our top-ranked peer-reviewed journals are among the first to publish major developments and discovery milestones.

Back to top
Short on time?

We'll come to you...

Get updates on the latest breakthroughs, clinical practice guidelines, and career development opportunities, straight to your inbox

Then take the next step: Set up your free website account and get exclusive access to even more great tools & content!