Polycystic ovary syndrome is one of the leading causes of infertility and affects up to 10 percent of women of childbearing age. It is a hormonal disorder that is characterized by many tiny cysts on the ovaries. The hormonal issues that come with the disorder can interfere with ovulation, egg health and implantation. The cause of PCOS remains unknown.
What Are The Symptoms Of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?
While some women with the disorder experience multiple symptoms, others may not. Some report persistent feelings of depression or anxiety. Affected women often experience irregular and long cycles. Some women have only one or two menses per year. They usually have anovulatory cycles but may experience heavy periods. Many women notice extra body or facial hair. However, male-pattern baldness is present in several cases. Acne is also a common symptom. These problems are usually due to an excess of androgens, which are male hormones. A large percentage of women with polycystic ovaries are overweight due to hormonal imbalances.
How Is The Disorder Diagnosed?
Although some physicians are quick to diagnose women with missed periods or trouble conceiving with polycystic ovary syndrome, proper testing must be conducted to rule out other issues or identify underlying problems that worsen the condition. For example, some women who are diagnosed with polycystic ovaries have hyperthyroidism. Others are resistant to insulin. Both problems can be identified through blood tests and can be treated with medication. By identifying an underlying problem and treating it, your symptoms may be reduced considerably. In addition to testing hormones, doctors use ultrasound imaging to look for multiple tiny cysts on the ovaries.
How Effective Are Fertility Treatments With PCOS?
Regulating ovulation is the best way to maximize your ability to conceive if your periods are sporadic. The good news is that many women who are diagnosed with polycystic ovaries go on to have healthy pregnancies with proper treatment. If you are overweight, losing weight is usually recommended before starting fertility treatments to optimize success. Medications that help balance your hormones often make it easier to lose weight.
Most doctors treat infertility with an ovarian stimulation drug such as clomiphene to induce ovulation. It is effective in regulating ovulation in about 80 percent of women with polycystic ovary syndrome, and about 40 percent of those who ovulate with it also conceive. However, letrozole works for many women who have the disorder and cannot conceive with clomiphene. Your doctor may prescribe metformin with a fertility drug if you are resistant to insulin. If additional factors are affecting your fertility, injectable gonadotropins may be prescribed.
When drugs are unsuccessful, your doctor can perform a hysterosalpingogram to see if there are also uterine abnormalities or tubal issues contributing to infertility. Although IVF is often a last resort, it has a good success rate for helping women with polycystic ovaries conceive. Our compassionate staff will be happy to discuss more options with you.