Let’s start with two startling coincidental facts:
- 10% of American women aged 15-44 have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- 10% of American women experience fertility problems
Although PCOS doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t get pregnant, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is the most common cause of women’s infertility. Fortunately, PCOS is highly treatable.
Marsha D. Bornt, MD, Donna Lamson, CRNP, MSN, WHNP-BC, and their team at Apple Hill Gynecology, in York, Pennsylvania, have years of experience in helping women cope with PCOS and fertility issues. We’re sharing our knowledge about PCOS and infertility to help you understand these conditions, so you can get the help you need.
PCOS occurs when a hormonal imbalance creates problems in your ovaries. A healthy ovary releases a mature egg once during each menstrual cycle. As you approach ovulation, follicles form. At the midpoint of your cycle, a surge of luteinizing hormone causes one of the follicles to mature into an egg and be released into the Fallopian tubes. The remaining follicles disintegrate, and your body absorbs them.
The hormonal imbalance interferes with egg maturation and release. Your egg may not mature correctly, or your ovary may not release the egg cell. Additionally, the follicles may not disintegrate and form multiple cysts on your ovaries. PCOS can also make your periods irregular, which contributes to fertility issues.
How PCOS affects fertility
Several steps need to happen in a specific timeline for conception to occur. The first of those critical steps is the release of the egg cell. If your ovaries don’t release mature, viable eggs, you won’t be able to get pregnant.
When to talk to a doctor about infertility
In most cases, if you’re under the age of 35, you should talk to your trusted gynecologist about fertility issues after a year of unsuccessful trying. If you’re 35 or older, you should make an appointment after six months of not getting or staying pregnant.
Our team of compassionate and experienced women’s health providers gives thorough exams and consultations to assess your health and fertility. We review your medical history and lifestyle before completing a pelvic exam and ordering blood work. We may also use additional tests such as ultrasounds or hysteroscopy to examine your reproductive organs for signs of PCOS and other issues that could interfere with fertility.
Your partner should also have a fertility workup. Infertility issues aren’t just women’s health problems — approximately a third of infertility cases are the result of male infertility.
If PCOS is the root cause of your fertility problems, we explain your treatment options. Though hormonal birth control won’t be the right answer if you’re trying to get pregnant, we can also prescribe anti-androgen medicines and Metformin, which can help regulate your menstrual cycle. You may also benefit from a Clomid prescription to help you ovulate.
We can also teach you how to track your cycle and identify your most fertile times of the month. Our team can also help you lose weight and improve your overall health, which also helps support a regular menstrual cycle.
When medication and lifestyle changes don’t help, you may need surgery to correct thickened ovarian shells or in vitro fertilization.
Call our office, or make an appointment online if you have any concerns about PCOS or fertility. Our team is on hand to help you optimize your health and fertility.