Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, commonly called PCOS, is quite common, with around 10% of women of childbearing age having the hormonal condition. PCOS can cause many symptoms, but one of the most difficult to grapple with could be that it often affects fertility.
Deciding to get pregnant or not is a major life decision. At Apple Hill Gynecology our staff wants to support you in making that decision. If your fertility may be impacted by PCOS, Dr. Marsha Bornt can help you understand just what that means.
In this post, we discuss the basics of PCOS and infertility, but as always, it’s important to talk to your doctor about your specific situation. PCOS doesn’t affect everyone in exactly the same way, so working with a highly qualified medical professional is very important.
PCOS is a hormonal imbalance
Despite the name, not everyone who has PCOS has cysts on their ovaries, although some people do. Instead, it’s a hormonal imbalance.
If you have PCOS, you may have higher-than-normal levels of androgens and high levels of insulin in your blood. You may also have small cysts in your ovaries, or thickened of the outer walls of your ovaries. A common symptom is irregular or missed periods.
You may have excess hair growth on your face or other areas it’s more usual for men to have hair, or you may have thinning hair on your scalp. PCOS can also cause symptoms in your skin, such as oily skin or severe acne, skin tags, or patches of thickened, dark skin called acanthosis nigricans.
Weight gain and difficulty losing weight are also common symptoms. You may have or develop insulin resistance, which increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
How PCOS affects fertility
PCOS interferes with ovulation, which is important for getting pregnant. In a perfect world, your ovaries have follicles, each with an egg. Ovulation occurs when one of those eggs is released into your Fallopian tube. At that point, the egg can be fertilized.
In PCOS, you may not ovulate, which is called anovulation. If an egg isn’t released, there’s nothing to be fertilized.
Treatments for PCOS
There aren’t any treatments for PCOS specifically, but Dr. Bornt can suggest treatments for your symptoms. If you want to get pregnant, you may need to take medication to help your body release eggs properly.
Often, people with PCOS need metformin also, which is a drug that helps correct insulin resistance. A combination of the two is sometimes a good approach. Other medications may work if these don’t. Surgical intervention might also be an option.
Dr. Bornt considers many factors before suggesting a treatment approach for you. If you suspect you have PCOS, or if you know that you do, but you’re ready to get pregnant, schedule an appointment at Apple Hill Gynecology.