PCOS & Fertility
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is one of the most common hormonal disorders affecting women in their reproductive years. Dive deep into understanding PCOS, its impact on fertility, and how with the right guidance, many women with PCOS can successfully achieve their reproductive goals.
Polycystic ovary syndrome, often referred to as PCOS or Stein-Leventhal Syndrome, is an endocrine disorder that sees the ovaries producing an increased amount of androgens – male sex hormones. These hormones are usually present in women in minuscule quantities. PCOS ranks as one of the most prevalent endocrine disorders found among biologically-born women in their reproductive age.
PCOS is more prevalent than you might think, affecting 5% to 10% of all women worldwide.
PCOS is primarily diagnosed based on the Rotterdam criteria. You would need to exhibit two of the following three symptoms:
- Irregular menstrual cycles or inconsistent ovulation.
- Elevated levels of male hormones, which might manifest as abnormal hair growth on the face or body, or even acne.
- Ultrasound displaying the appearance typical of PCOS in the ovaries.
But there’s a catch! The fourth, often overlooked, criterion is that no other condition can explain your symptoms. A comprehensive evaluation for PCOS will encompass your medical history, a physical exam, an ultrasound, and hormone tests. It’s worth noting that while the condition is named “polycystic ovary syndrome”, it doesn’t always correlate with the presence of cysts.
- Irregular menstrual cycles.
- Infertility challenges.
- Pelvic pain.
- Excessive hair growth, especially on the face, chest, stomach, or thighs.
- Weight gain.
- Acne or skin that’s excessively oily.
- Regions of skin that are abnormally thickened.
Unfortunately, yes. The hormonal imbalances inherent in PCOS can disrupt the typical growth and release of eggs from the ovaries, thereby creating fertility challenges.
PCOS Treatment Options
When it comes to treating PCOS, there are multiple options available.
Women with PCOS frequently exhibit elevated AMH levels, which correlates with an increased egg count. This makes egg freezing a feasible option for them.
Medications such as Letrozole and Clomid are designed to induce ovulation, subsequently enhancing the likelihood of conception. It's important to note that when on these medications, at least two office visits per cycle are essential.
IVF stands as a widely adopted method for women with PCOS who wish to have children. Similar to egg freezing, women with PCOS tend to produce a larger number of follicles, which can be a boon during egg retrieval for both processes. Yet, the quality of these eggs may vary, which might influence success rates. Furthermore, the hormonal imbalances present in PCOS can alter the response to fertility drugs, necessitating meticulous monitoring and personalized treatment strategies. While PCOS may introduce challenges in one's fertility journey, numerous women with the condition, under expert guidance, successfully undertake egg freezing and IVF to realize their reproductive aspirations.
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