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Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and Fertility: What You Can Do

A common cause of infertility in women is polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). This condition is very common and affects about 5-10% of women of childbearing age, and yet more than half of these young women remain undiagnosed. While many women opt for birth control pills to combat the hormone imbalance and improve symptoms, this is only a temporary remedy. When women with PCOS decide to start a family, the symptoms come back again. In fact, ovulatory disorders such as PCOS are the number-one cause of infertility, surpassing endometriosis.

The main symptoms of PCOS include:

  • Many small, fluid-filled ovarian cysts
  • Obesity (up to 80% of women with PCOS are obese)
  • Higher than normal levels of androgen (male hormones), like testosterone
  • Irregular periods
  • Heavy bleeding during periods
  • Excess hair growth
  • Insulin resistance, which may lead to Type 2 diabetes
  • Acne
  • Mood disorders
  • High cholesterol and/or triglycerides, which can later lead to heart disease

Although PCOS can make conception more difficult because of ovulation and egg quality problems, it’s a treatable condition, and many women do successfully conceive.

How Does PCOS Cause Infertility?

PCOS negatively impacts a woman’s ability to conceive because she does not ovulate, or release an egg, every month. This causes irregular periods, and other problems which can hinder conception, including increased levels of male hormones like testosterone affecting oocyte (ovary cell) quality. Because women with PCOS do not have periods every month, it makes it much more difficult to gauge the odds of conception based on an ovulation calendar.

How Fertility Treatments Can Help Combat PCOS

For many women, lifestyle modifications can boost fertility, such as weight loss, healthy diet, and regular exercise. In fact, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that even a slight weight loss of 10-15 pounds can regulate the menstrual cycle, improve insulin levels, and relieve unpleasant symptoms such as excess hair growth and acne. However, this still does not solve this problem for the 20% of women with PCOS who are not overweight or obese.

Women who do not respond to lifestyle modifications may respond, instead, to fertility medications. In some cases, women with PCOS successfully undergo in-vitro fertilization (IVF) to conceive. This fertility-boosting treatment involves daily fertility injections to stimulate the ovaries to produce multiple eggs, which are then harvested, fertilized “in vitro” and replaced in the woman’s uterus after 3 to 5 days of growth.

Have PCOS? There Is Hope: Contact Our Palm Beach Fertility Center Today

If you have PCOS and are interested in starting a family, you may have concerns about how you will conceive. You should know many women can jumpstart ovulation successfully and eventually do get pregnant with appropriate treatment.

Interested in fertility treatments in Boca Raton? Contact Palm Beach Fertility Center today at (888) 819-5177 or book an appointment online.