Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder which occurs in women of reproductive age. PCOS symptoms can include prolonged or infrequent menstrual periods or high male hormone levels known as androgens. PCOS is often diagnosed as pre-diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Often this disorder causes the ovaries to develop follicles, which prevents the release of eggs and creates a barrier to getting pregnant. Though the exact cause is unknown, this disorder can be treated, and with early treatment, women may avoid long-term complications such as heart disease or diabetes.
HOW PCOS AFFECTS FERTILITY
PCOS can have a negative impact on fertility because women who suffer from this condition often do not regularly ovulate or release eggs. For women who wish to become pregnant, the first line of treatment is to make lifestyle changes, which usually involves losing weight and increasing exercise.
UPPING THE ODDS OF PREGNANCY
Even after making lifestyle changes, some women still experience infrequent ovulation. In these cases, women may choose in vitro fertilization (IVF) to help with conception. The initial therapy involves taking a drug to stimulate ovulation.
Sometimes medications alone are not effective for women with PCOS and do not result in ovulation or pregnancy. In this case, the patient may receive fertility injections which will help the body release an egg. This type of medication contains a hormone which sends a signal to the ovaries to release an egg. Often, women taking fertility injections will produce two or more eggs in one month.
ACHIEVING A HEALTHY PREGNANCY
In IVF treatment, a woman’s eggs are harvested and fertilized in a laboratory with sperm from the partner or donor sperm. After five days an embryo can be transferred to the woman’s uterus. Any additional embryos can be frozen for future use.
TAKING THE IVF PLUNGE
IVF is one of the most common treatments for women with PCOS who wish to have children. Women who attempt to conceive using IVF have up to a 70% chance of becoming pregnant. Once pregnant, these women also have up to a 60% chance of a successful live birth. Women with PCOS who wish to find out more about IVF should consult a fertility specialist.