PCOS – polycystic ovary syndrome – is a disorder of the endocrine system.  The condition is common, affecting up to 10 percent of women of childbearing age in this country.

Although all women have circulating levels of androgens, or ‘male’ hormones, women with PCOS typically have higher than normal levels.  As a result, they can experience irregular or missed periods, excessive hair growth, and acne.  The condition gets its name from the many small ovarian follicles, or ‘cysts’ that can be seen on ultrasound.

PCOS Symptoms

In addition to irregular or infrequent periods, women with PCOS may experience the following symptoms:

PCOS and Infertility

Many women with PCOS often have difficulty becoming pregnant because they don’t ovulate regularly. Follicles start to grow but do not fully mature and ovulate, so women can go months at a time without a period.

In addition, women with polycystic ovary syndrome are at increased risk of developing certain medical conditions including diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.  During pregnancy, they may also be more likely to experience gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, miscarriage and premature delivery.

If women with PCOS go for prolonged periods of time without a period they can be at increased risk for endometrial hyperplasia or cancer.

Treating PCOS

Oral contraceptives can reduce hair growth, improve acne, regulate menstrual periods and reduce cancer risk.

Women with PCOS who wish to become pregnant may benefit from weight loss. Metformin, an oral insulin-sensitizing medication, may also improve ovulation by helping the body use insulin more effectively.

Your reproductive endocrinologist may prescribe medications to induce ovulation, such as clomiphene citrate or Letrozole. If oral medications are unsuccessful, injectable gonadotropins may be given to aid in egg growth.

When the above treatments are unsuccessful, your fertility specialist may recommend in vitro fertilization (IVF) as an option.

If you have PCOS and elect to undergo fertility treatment, talk with your reproductive endocrinologist about the available options.

You Might Also Enjoy...

The IVF Cycle: What to Expect

Are you considering in vitro fertilization? If you have been struggling to become pregnant due to low ovulation rates or another fertility issue, this could be the right path for you. Read on to learn more.

When to Consider Intrauterine Insemination

If you’re struggling to get pregnant, you might be wondering when to try a different method. Here’s when intrauterine insemination (IUI) can help you with your fertility issues and how our team can guide you through the process.

5 Reasons to Consider Freezing Your Eggs

Freezing your eggs can provide you with options as you age, giving you opportunities for family building whenever you’re ready. Read on to learn more about this innovative process.