Polycystic ovarian syndrome — PCOS for short — significantly affects women’s fertility. In fact, it is the direct cause of fertility problems in about 10 to 15 percent of all women of childbearing age, according to the PCOS Foundation. Although the exact cause is unknown, genetics play a part, as it tends to run in families. An evaluation for PCOS is one of the key parts of a fertility evaluation at New York Reproductive Wellness, the leading New York fertility clinic.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and Hormones
PCOS affects the balance of hormones in a woman’s body. Although estrogen and progesterone are the primary female sex hormone, women also produce small amounts of testosterone. PCOS causes testosterone levels to rise. In addition to increasing testosterone levels, PCOS also upsets other hormonal mechanisms, such as insulin — which regulates blood sugar.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and Overall Health
PCOS would be a health problem even if it didn’t affect fertility. By upsetting insulin regulation, PCOS increase the risk of insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is one of the early signs of diabetes; the cells stop responding to insulin. The blood sugar levels rise, causing damage to cells throughout the body. PCOS also has other negative health effects, like high cholesterol, high blood pressure and an increased risk of heart disease.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome Symptoms
Many PCOS symptoms are visible; one of the most obvious is being overweight or obese, despite eating a healthy diet. Excessive hair growth on the face, acne and male pattern baldness (hair loss from the forehead to the crown) are other visible symptoms. Less obvious symptoms include menstrual irregularities and multiple ovarian cysts — which is where the term PCOS comes from; polycystic means “multiple cysts.”
There’s no single way to diagnose PCOS. The doctor will obtain an extensive medical and family history, including details of all possible symptoms, like menstrual patterns. A physical examination is the next step. Blood tests can provide information about hormone or blood sugar levels, and a vaginal ultrasound is a diagnostic tool that can show the presence of ovarian cysts.
PCOS isn’t like an infection that can be fixed with a dose of antibiotics; lifelong management is necessary. Birth control pills can help regulate menstrual periods. Lifestyle modifications can help with weight loss or to maintain a healthy weight. Fertility treatments include techniques like in vitro fertilization, and medications that regulate blood sugar can help with insulin resistance. Medications to promote ovulation may also be used.
New York Reproductive Wellness offers a wide variety of treatments and options to manage PCOS and deal with infertility problems. We are one of the top fertility clinics in New York City. Contact us today for an appointment; we offer extended hours and Saturday hours to meet your scheduling needs.