Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common problem among women and a leading cause of infertility. It can result in a variety of symptoms that negatively impact a woman’s appearance, comfort, and overall quality of life. In more severe cases, it can increase one’s risk for diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Moreover, PCOS can effectively prevent a woman from becoming pregnant by cancelling her ovulatory cycle.
If you are diagnosed with PCOS at our New Orleans fertility clinic, we offer multiple treatment options to help you retake control of your body. From simple lifestyle changes to in vitro fertilization (IVF), the right treatment can allow you to combat infertility and have a completely successful pregnancy.
What Is PCOS?
Polycystic ovary syndrome is a hormonal imbalance that occurs in women. Normally, the female body produces high levels of estrogen and low levels of testosterone, in turn leading to the production of progesterone during ovulation. This readies the uterus for fertilization of an egg and implantation of the embryo. With PCOS, the body produces an abundance of testosterone, which can cease ovulation and, by extension, progesterone. As a result, the woman is infertile until her body achieves hormonal balance and her ovulation cycle returns.
Symptoms of PCOS
If you experience an irregular, infrequent, or absent menstrual cycle, it may be an indication of PCOS. Before jumping to any conclusions, however, take note of the other symptoms often associated with this disorder:
- Ovarian cysts (often result in abdominal or lower back pain)
- Heavy bleeding or increased discomfort during periods
- Increased presence or thickness of body hair, particularly on the face, chest, or stomach
- Oily or dry skin
- Weight gain
- Skin tags or skin discoloration
For a more accurate diagnosis, visit our fertility center. An ultrasound can identify the presence of ovarian cysts, and a blood test can gauge your hormone levels.
Treatment for PCOS
Treatment for PCOS is largely dependent on a patient’s goals. If she only wishes to reduce the symptoms of PCOS and return to a normal menstrual cycle, then medication alone may be an effective solution. By taking a low dosage of birth control medication, a woman can balance her hormone levels and reduce the effects of testosterone. Similarly, a doctor may recommend a change of lifestyle if the patient is overweight, since obesity is also linked to hormonal imbalance. Diet and exercise may be an excellent way to prevent PCOS in the future, in addition to being a positive health practice in general.
However, if a patient wishes to become pregnant in the near future, more direct action may need to be taken. Ovulation inducing drugs, such as those used in IVF treatment, can help stimulate the ovaries and help patients begin ovulation once more. Other drugs may also be administered to reduce insulin levels, making the ovulatory medication more effective and even assisting in weight loss. Once a patient begins ovulating, it may be advantageous to follow through with IVF treatment, as this will boost the woman’s chance of a successful embryo implantation and ensuing pregnancy.
If you suspect that you may suffer from PCOS, don’t hesitate to consult one of our doctors. Even if PCOS is not present, any problems related to your ovaries or reproductive system is worth diagnosing and discussing. Contact us today to schedule an in-depth consultation and exam.