Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder involving excess androgens (testosterone and other male hormones) in the body. Signs of PCOS include absent or irregular menstrual periods, infertility, hirsutism (abnormal growth of body and facial hair), persistent acne and male pattern baldness. Ultrasound examinations of women with PCOS often find small cysts surrounding the ovaries as well.
Although it is rare that women develop PCOS later in life, it is possible that women may not know they have polycystic ovary syndrome for years because the disorder mimics symptoms of other hormonal disorders. In many cases, reproductive-age women undergoing a comprehensive fertility evaluation will discover they have PCOS for the first time.
Why Does PCOS Interfere with Fertility?
When a woman’s ovaries and adrenal glands produce too much testosterone, her ovaries cannot release eggs and periods become irregular or absent altogether. Treatments for PCOS are designed to help reduce symptoms like acne, hirsuteness and insulin resistance. For women who do not want to get pregnant, birth control pills/patches/shots will regulate menstrual cycles and lower the risk of endometrial cancer. A drug called Metformin prescribed to people with type 2 diabetes may help women with PCOS by reducing blood glucose, insulin and testosterone levels. A few women taking Metformin will start ovulating again after taking Metformin for several months. However, Metformin does not improve acne or excess hair growth.
PCOS and Getting Pregnant
For women having trouble conceiving due to polycystic ovary syndrome, assisted reproductive technologies like IUI and IVF are available to help them become pregnant. Intrauterine insemination (IUI) involves placement of sperm in the uterus to promote fertilization. Intrauterine insemination increases the number of viable sperm that can reach a woman’s fallopian tubes.
In vitro fertilization (IVF) supports fertilization by removing a woman’s eggs and combining them with sperm in a lab dish. Once the egg and sperm have developed into an embryo, the embryo is then transferred to the woman’s uterus
If you are having trouble getting pregnant, you may have polycystic ovary syndrome. Call New York Reproductive Wellness today schedule an appointment for a fertility evaluation or to learn more about IUI and IVF.