PCOS or polycystic ovary syndrome is a disorder affecting a woman’s endocrine system. It is believed to be the most common cause of female infertility and the most prevalent endocrine disease in women of childbearing age. It affects 1 in 10 women and 1 in 20 women of reproductive age, with about 5 million women affected in the U.S.
While the exact cause is unknown, research supports that it is a largely a genetic condition. Many women with PCOS would find that a mother or sister has been affected as well. Also, while genetics likely plays a large role, environment and diet as an adult can attribute to the severity of symptoms and related health issues associated with PCOS.
Women with PCOS are known to have hormonal imbalances with an excess production of male hormones called androgens (also known as hyperandrogenism), abnormal menstrual cycles, and have metabolic issues including insulin resistance often leading the development of diabetes at some point. Recent evidence suggests that the increased levels of testosterone can cause fat stored in the wrong places to affect the functioning of the ovaries.
Noticeable symptoms can include weight gain, male patterns of hair growth to pelvic pain or acne. Either irregular periods or the absence of a menstrual period make it more difficult to become pregnant and can lead to infertility.
There are various methods used to determine whether a woman has PCOS.
First, her medical history including menstrual cycles, obesity, and recognizable signs of male hormones such as hair growth and breast development may be evaluated.
One of the most common methods of diagnosis is a pelvic ultrasound used to detect whether a woman has polycystic ovaries. Polycystic ovarian follicles are follicles that never reach the size required for ovulation and prevent the ovary from producing the hormones needed for an egg to properly mature.
It should be noted that not every woman with PCOS will have polycystic ovaries and not all women with ovarian cysts has PCOS. A system called the Rotterdam criteria, based on research performed in 2003 denotes the presence of PCOS in women with 2 out of 3 criteria including either infrequent or irregular ovulation, high levels of androgen and polycystic ovaries.
Other tests that are common but not clearly a diagnostic are blood tests to determine abnormal levels of androgens or high ratios of luteinizing hormones (LH) to FSH hormones and laparoscopic examinations.
The first approach to treating infertility due to PCOS includes medications such as Clomiphene Citrate (also known as
Clomid). It induces ovulation with the intention to produce mature eggs. While this is the primary method prescribed by doctors, about only half of women affected by PCOS get pregnant after using Clomid. Another medication, Letrozole, is a drug that causes the body to produce more FSH. It has recently been indicated to result in more births than Clomid.
If a woman does not respond well to Clomid or Letrozole, controlled ovarian hyper-stimulation with Gonadotropins or follicle stimulating hormones can be prescribed. These hormones are given as shots and will cause ovulation. Specific brand names of FSH hormones include Follistim and Bravelle. These drugs are more effective and can help women with PCOS to get pregnant. A notable and often-controversial risk factor associated with any of the medications above is multiple births. Of course the process cannot only be stressful and a big decision mentally but these medications are also costly in the United States and around the world.
Ovarian drilling is another method of treatment for patients with PCOS that have trouble getting pregnant. It is less expensive financially and does not leave the increased risk of multiple births but there is a chance of scarring the ovaries because the process involves a surgeon using a needle with electric currents to puncture parts of the ovary.
Other side effects to any of the procedures and medications listed above should always be discussed with your doctor. Medications should only dispensed and administered with a valid prescription.
If you have been diagnosed with PCOS and are concerned about your fertility, there are many options and you are not alone. More at https://ivfprescriptions.com