Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) affects nearly 1 in 10 women of the childbearing age. It is a commonly diagnosed cause for infertility. While not completely understood, PCOS is thought to be caused by an imbalance of reproductive hormones leading to a problem for the ovaries. PCOS causes and symptoms seem to vary. Primarily, it creates issues with the proper development of the egg in the ovary. In some cases, it can hinder the egg from releasing at all due to the higher levels of testosterone.
Can I still get pregnant if I have PCOS?
While it may prolong the time it takes a patient to become pregnant, the good news is that a diagnoses of PCOS does not mean you can’t still get pregnant. It is a common, but treatable, cause of infertility.
Our goal is to ensure ovulation. This can be done in with a combination of medications including clomiphene, letrozole, metformin, dexamethasone, gonal F, Follistim, Menopur, Repronex, Ovidrel or Novarel, depending on your treatment plan.
Clomiphene (Clomid) is a commonly prescribed medication for women with PCOS. This mediation is taken from cycle day 3 through 7 or 5 through 9, depending. This medication causes the pituitary gland in your brain to release more Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) than normal. A normal functioning ovary produces one egg (oocyte). Due to the increased FSH, 2-3 eggs (oocytes) are able to mature in a cycle instead of the one. This medication is also beneficial for women who have difficulty releasing an egg from the uterus.
Another medication that is commonly used for women with PCOS is Letrozole (Femara), which is administered on cycle day 3 through 7 or 5 through 9, depending. This medication works very similarly to Clomiphene in that it releases more Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) than normal. It has all of the same benefits as listed above.
In vitro fertilization (IVF) if another option for women with PCOS when other treatments do not work.
It’s important to note that women with PCOS require more fertility medication for the body to appropriately respond. Because of this, patients with PCOS are at a higher risk of Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS).
OHSS is an excessive response of the body from taking medicines that help to make ovulation occur. When OHSS occurs, it typically means there are high estradiol levels and a large number of growing follicles. This can lead to fluid leaking into the abdomen, which can cause swelling/bloating of the abdomen and nausea. In every case where OHSS is detected, ovaries are enlarged.
Some mild to moderate symptoms include abdominal bloating, nausea, and weight gain from bloating. Severe OHSS symptoms can include vomiting, the inability to keep liquids down, serious discomfort from swelling in the abdomen, shortness of breath and even blood clots in the legs.
What are the causes and treatments for PCOS?
Symptoms of PCOS can include:
- Irregular periods or no periods at all
- Excess hair growth
- Elevated blood sugar
- Weight gain
- Thinning hair and hair loss from the head
Excess weight is another major factor linked to PCOS – both in treatment of symptoms and infertility. Women who are obese can experience a more difficult time becoming pregnant, especially if diagnosed with PCOS. It not only can affect preconception, but also pregnancy and delivery as well.
Obesity can cause:
- Reduced live birth rate
- Reduced fertilization rate
- Fewer eggs
- Higher rates of miscarriage
Treatment for PCOS is best managed with a healthy, low-glycemic index diet, medication, and exercise. Even losing as little as 5 percent of excess weight can help women ovulate more regularly and lessen symptoms. Through regular diet and exercise, this can be an achievable goal for many women. Some ways you can make changes to your diet today include balancing your carbohydrate and protein intake, upping your iron, reducing caffeine, and adding fiber to your diet to name a few.
Recommended vitamins and supplements for PCOS: