What is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and Why Can It Interfere with Fertility?
Women diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) are suffering reproductive hormone imbalances that prevent eggs from being released while the woman is ovulating. PCOS may also cause eggs to develop abnormally. PCOS is common reason for irregular or missed menstrual periods and for development of microscopic cystic structures within the ovaries. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, between five and 10 percent of women (15 to 44 years old) have polycystic ovarian syndrome. Most women do not discover they have PCOS until they visit their doctor after trying to to conceive and failing to get pregnant.
Possible Causes of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Although doctors haven't pinpointed a specific reason why some women develop PCOS, risk factors have been identified that may increase your chances of being diagnosed with PCOS, such as:
- Excess blood insulin--insulin resistance impairs your ability to utilize insulin for energy, forcing the pancreas to make more insulin than necessary. Excess insulin forces ovaries to increase production of androgen, which interferes with ovulation)
- Low grade, system inflammation--any type of mild inflammation induces ovaries to make and release androgens due to substances secreted by infection-fighting, white blood cells
- Inheritance of PCOS--women who have sisters, mothers or grandmothers with PCOS have an increased risk for having this condition.
Symptoms of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
The most common symptom of PCOS is missing, heavy/scant or irregular periods not due to another illness or disease. Other signs include elevated levels of androgen in the blood, excessive body/facial hair, severe acne and androgenic alopecia (male pattern baldness). Ultrasound testing may also indicate the presence of polycystic ovaries, or enlarged ovaries containing fluid-filled sacs surrounding eggs
Treating Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome to Achieve Pregnancy
Fortunately, women with PCOS who have problems conceiving can take medications to support normal ovulation or opt for in vitro fertilization procedures if medications do not work. IVF involves fertilizing a healthy egg with sperm in a lab and then implanting the embryo in the uterus. Compared to ovulating medication, IVF exhibits better pregnancy rates while providing more control over the risk for having a multiple pregnancy.
If you are having trouble getting pregnant and suspect you may have polycystic ovarian syndrome, please schedule an appointment with New York Reproductive Wellness fertility doctor by calling 516-612-8466.