15 Jun Getting Pregnant With PCOS
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a medical condition that affects a woman’s hormones, menstrual cycle, and ability to have children. Women with PCOS have irregular or missed periods, high levels of androgens (testosterone), and small fluid-filled cysts on the ovaries.
How many women have PCOS?
Around 5-8% of women of childbearing age have PCOS. This is approximately 5 million women in the U.S. PCOS can occur in adolescent girls as young as 11 years of age.
What causes PCOS?
The exact cause of PCOS is not known. However, researchers and experts think that several factors contribute to the condition. These include weight, genetics, and hormones. The main problem in PCOS is hormone imbalance. Androgens are produced in women, as smaller levels than men. High levels of these hormones affect the development, maturation, and release of eggs during ovulation.
Researchers also think insulin is linked to PCOS. Insulin is a hormone that controls the change of starches, sugar, and other foods into energy for the body to use. Many women with PCOS have too much insulin, which increases the production of androgens. High levels of androgens lead to acne, ovulation problems, excessive hair growth, and weight gain.
What are the symptoms of PCOS?
The symptoms of PCOS vary from person to person. These include:
- Infertility due to no ovulation
- Hirsutism (increased hair on face, chest, back, stomach, and pubic region)
- Infrequent, irregular, and/or absent menstrual periods
- Cysts on ovaries
- Acne, dandruff, and/or oily skin
- Male-pattern baldness or thinning of the hair
- Discolored patches on the skin of the elbows, arms, knees, legs, and back of neck
- Weight gain or excessive weight around the abdomen
- Depression and/or anxiety
Why do women with PCOS have problems with fertility?
The ovaries are where eggs are produced, and they contain fluid-filled sacs call follicles. When the egg begins to grow and mature, the follicle builds up fluid. Once the follicle breaks open, the egg is released into the fallopian tube where it can be fertilized. This is called ovulation. When a woman has PCOS, the ovary does not make all the hormones necessary for egg maturation. The follicle often begins to grow and fill with fluid, but ovulation never occurs. These follicles remain as cysts. Because progesterone is not made, a woman’s menstrual cycle may be absent or irregular. In addition, too much androgen affects ovulation.
How is PCOS diagnosed?
There is no one test used to diagnose PCOS. The doctor diagnoses the condition using many tests, as well as a physical examination and medical history. The doctor will check your body mass index (BMI), waist size, and blood pressure, check for increased hair growth, and conduct an ultrasound to assess for multiple cysts. Blood tests are used to check glucose, insulin, and androgen levels.
How is PCOS treated?
There is no cure for PCOS, but treatment goals aim to control symptoms and increase chances of pregnancy. Options for treatment include:
- Lifestyle modification – To help lose weight, the woman should eat a healthy diet limiting processed foods and excessive sugars. In addition, exercise is important for weight loss and cardiovascular health.
- Birth control pills – To regulate a woman’s hormones and menstrual cycle, birth control pills may be used. These reduce male hormone levels, clear up acne, and regulate the cycle.
- Medications – Metformin is a medication approved by the FDA to control insulin levels. This also reduces abnormal hair growth and helps regulate menstrual cycles. Clomid is used for ovulation stimulation. Finally, gonadotropins are injections that help with egg development and release.
Successfully getting pregnant with PCOS is extremely possible once treatment is initiated. When the underlying hormonal abnormalities are corrected, conception can occur! Call US Fertility Network today to initiate treatment with the top fertility centers in your area.