A glass of red wine a day could help women who are struggling to get pregnant, experts claim.
A chemical compound found in the popular tipple can combat a major cause of female infertility, new research has revealed.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is estimated to affect one in five women, but that number could be much higher as almost half of sufferers show no symptoms of the condition.
It causes a hormone imbalance, with the body producing too much testosterone – the male sex hormone which can prevent pregnancy.
But now, researchers in the United States and Poland believe resveratrol – a natural compound in the skin of grapes used to make red wine – can reverse the damaging hormone imbalance.
It adds to past studies that show the compound can help ward off heart disease and some cancers.
Dr Antoni Duleba, lead researcher from the University of California, San Diego, said: “Our study is the first clinical trial to find resveratrol significantly lowers PCOS patients’ levels of testosterone.
“This nutritional supplement can help moderate the hormone imbalance that is one of the central features of PCOS.”
What is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a common condition – a leading cause of infertility in women.
The three main features of the condition are:
- Irregular periods – which means your ovaries do not regularly release eggs
- Excess androgen – high levels of “male” hormones in the body, which can cause physical symptoms such as excess facial or body hair
- Polycystic ovaries – enlarged ovaries that contain fluid-filled sacs around the eggs
If you have at least two of these features, it is likely you will be diagnosed with PCOS.
Signs and symptoms include:
- irregular or no periods at all
- difficulty getting pregnant
- excessive hair growth, often on the face, chest and back
- weight gain
- oily skin or acne
- hair loss or thinning hair on the head
Across the world, PCOS is one of the most common causes of infertility in women, the report, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, noted.
Women suffering PCOS can also suffer irregular periods, weight gain, acne and excess hair growth on the face and body, as well as chronic conditions including diabetes.
Researchers believe it is resveratrol’s anti-inflammatory properties that help tilt the hormone imbalance back to optimum levels for conception.
They tested 30 women with PCOS – giving half a placebo, while the other half took a resveratrol compound once a day for three months.
Blood samples were examined at regular intervals to monitor each woman’s hormone levels.
The researchers noted those women taking resveratrol showed falling levels of testosterone over the course of the trial.
On average testosterone levels in this group of women fell by 23.1 per cent.
That is compared to a 2.9 per cent fall in testosterone among those women taking the placebo.
Dr Duleba said: “The findings suggest resveratrol can improve the body’s ability to use insulin and potentially lower the risk of developing diabetes.
“The supplement may be able to help reduce the risk of metabolic problems common in women with PCOS.”
He said his team also noted added benefits in the fall of other harmful hormones, and the body’s ability to control insulin in the resveratrol group, that was not seen in the women taking placebo.