What Is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)?
PCOS is a hormonal disorder that results from an imbalance of your reproductive hormones. This is a common health issue among women of childbearing age and is one of the most common causes of infertility.
One out of every 10 women of childbearing age is affected by PCOS, often resulting in female infertility.
If you or your partner have PCOS, your ovaries can develop numerous follicles and fail to regularly develop or release eggs within the conventional timeframe. Additionally, you may have infrequent or prolonged menstrual periods or excess male hormone levels.
Causes of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
Its exact cause is still relatively unknown—however, researchers believe genetic predisposition plays a significant factor. Other conditions which likely contribute to the development of PCOS include:
Excess Levels of Androgens
Your body produces androgens (usually referred to as male hormones) in small amounts. If you have PCOS, you create a higher level of androgens—which overshadows the estrogen (female) hormones and prevents normal egg development. Estrogen is responsible for normal ovarian function in the female reproductive system.
High Insulin Levels
Your body produces insulin to transform food into energy. If your cells are not responding appropriately, insulin resistance can occur resulting in higher insulin blood levels. Unhealthy eating habits, lack of physical activity, and obesity can lead to insulin resistance, commonly found in women with PCOS. If left untreated, this resistance can result in type 2 diabetes.
During your consultation, our team can perform a thorough evaluation to determine the source of your condition.
Symptoms Associated with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
If you're unsure about whether or not you’re experiencing PCOS and would like to know the symptoms associated with this syndrome, here’s what you or your partner can expect:
Irregular Menstrual Cycle
PCOS can cause irregular or infrequent periods. Alternatively, some women may notice periods arrive every 21 days or even more often. If you leave PCOS untreated, it could lead to the development of small ovarian cysts or infertility.
Hirsutism occurs if you have excessive hair growth on the face or chin areas and has been known to affect nearly 70 percent of women with PCOS.
You can experience excessive breakouts on the face, chest, or upper back if currently going through PCOS.
In contrast to hirsutism, you can experience excessive hair loss, or thinning of hair when diagnosed with PCOS.
Difficulty losing weight or weight gain with no apparent cause can also indicate a hormone imbalance associated with PCOS.
Darkening of Skin
Women who experience darkened skin areas in the groin, underneath the breasts, or along neck creases could be at a higher risk for PCOS.
Skin tags, especially in the armpits or on the neck area, could also be a sign of PCOS.
Note: It is essential to present all symptoms to your doctor to help guarantee a proper diagnosis.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) Treatment Options
At present, there is no cure for PCOS. However, with proper diagnosis and treatment, you have a higher chance of conception and healthy pregnancy. During your initial consultation, your doctor will walk you through everything you need to know about PCOS at the treatment options you have available to you. At PFCLA we treat PCOS with two common methods to achieve a healthy pregnancy:
Your doctor will sometimes prescribe birth control to treat PCOS if you or your partner aren't currently looking to get pregnant. However, if trying to conceive, an estrogen modulator such as Clomid (clomiphene citrate) can induce ovulation if PCOS is present.
In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
If medications are not successful, your doctor may recommend IVF as an alternative, as the procedure produces higher pregnancy rates. Your doctor will collect the eggs and sperm from you, your partner, or a surrogate during the treatment and fertilize the egg in our laboratory. Your doctor will then implant the embryo into the uterus.
Depending on your unique goals, we can recommend the best treatment option for you.