Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common female disorder causing metabolic issues and elevated hormones such as testosterone, luteinizing hormone, and insulin. It is considered to be the most common hormonal imbalance disorder in reproductive-aged women. An estimated 70%-80% of PCOS cases will result in infertility, according to the National Institutes of Health.1

This hormone imbalance can disrupt normal ovulation and the menstrual cycle, leading to irregular or missed periods, the development of cysts on the ovaries, and ultimately infertility in women. With proper diagnosis and treatment with a specialist at The Fertility Institute, most women with fertility problems due to PCOS can conceive.

Signs and Symptoms of PCOS

PCOS causes complex changes in a woman’s hormonal glands, with varying effects on her body, to her mental state or reproductive cycle. While women with PCOS will often experience different symptoms, some of the more common ones are:

  • Pelvic pain
  • Excess body or facial hair (also known as hirsutism)
  • Oily or dry skin
  • Weight gain, or trouble losing weight
  • Skin tags or discoloration
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Anxiety and depression

Diagnosing and Treating PCOS

Polycystic ovary syndrome is often overlooked and undiagnosed in many women because its symptoms are complex, vary from patient to patient, and can sometimes appear to be unrelated to one another.

Because PCOS is related to other medical conditions, it is difficult to diagnose with a single test. As a result, our fertility specialist will perform a series of exams and evaluations to rule out other causes before diagnosis:

  • Physical exam to assess thyroid, body mass index, blood pressure, body hair, acne, and skin condition.
  • Health assessment to understand the patient’s history of menstrual irregularities and other fertility-related issues.
  • Pelvic exam to check for abnormal physical signs, such as an enlarged clitoris or swollen ovaries.
  • Ultrasound (sonogram) to check for cysts on the ovaries and the lining of the uterus.
  • Blood tests to measure hormone levels and indicators of conditions other than PCOS.

After a proper diagnosis, the treatment for PCOS will vary depending on a woman’s family-building goals and may include other healthcare professionals to help manage the patient’s symptoms beyond her desire to conceive. Our specialists discuss all evaluations and specific desires with the patient before arriving together at a course of action.

PCOS Treatment Options

For women who want to conceive, our specialists may suggest fertility treatments to work around the issues the condition presents. Often, treatment can include lifestyle modifications, such as weight management, nutrition, or exercise.

For those who suffer from severe symptoms, more advanced interventions may also help women achieve pregnancy. This can include using medication, such as clomiphene citrate (brand name Clomid), letrozole, and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), to help stimulate ovulation.

Medication can also be combined with assisted reproductive technology procedures like intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in vitro fertilization (IVF).

Visit The Fertility Institute

Because of the hormonal imbalances due to PCOS, it can be difficult for those with this condition to get pregnant.

For those who do become pregnant, polycystic ovary syndrome brings with it other complications. Women are at higher risk for pregnancy complications such as gestational diabetes, hypertension during pregnancy, pre-eclampsia, and miscarriage. They are also more likely to deliver by cesarean because they tend to give birth to larger-sized babies.

For these reasons, diagnosing PCOS early is important to achieving a successful pregnancy and birth. If you’re struggling with infertility, talk to a specialist at The Fertility Institute to determine whether PCOS may be the cause.

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