September is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) Awareness Month, which is the perfect opportunity to explore the condition and how it affects fertility. Women who have PCOS often try many different treatments and lifestyle changes to help manage their symptoms. But when those women want to get pregnant, they may have to re-evaluate their treatment options. Read on to learn more about the connections between PCOS and infertility.
What is PCOS?
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a condition that occurs when the ovaries and/or adrenal glands produce higher levels of male hormones than normal. This causes benign cysts to grow on the ovaries, which can result in irregularities in ovulation and menstruation.
Some of the symptoms of PCOS include:
- Irregular or missed periods
- Pelvic pain
- Unwanted hair growth on the body
- Hair thinning on the head
- Weight gain
- Mood Changes
- Sleep problems
PCOS and Infertility
Some people think that PCOS and infertility always go hand-in-hand because women with polycystic ovary syndrome have fertility issues. According to the US Office on Women’s Health, PCOS is one of the most common but treatable causes of infertility in women.
Women with PCOS can have problems with irregular ovulation because of hormonal imbalances. That means they may have a more difficult time getting pregnant than women who do not have PCOS. Also, women with PCOS are more likely to be overweight or obese, which can also interfere with fertility.
However, it’s important to note that just because a woman has PCOS doesn’t mean she won’t be able to conceive and have a healthy pregnancy. A PCOS diagnosis does not mean you are infertile. If you have PCOS and you want to get pregnant, consult your doctor first to make sure any other health issues related to your condition are under control before you try to get pregnant.
Fertility Treatments for Women with PCOS
Hormonal birth control is commonly prescribed to help control symptoms of PCOS. However, if you are trying to get pregnant, birth control is obviously not the treatment for you. Ovulation induction with oral drugs like clomiphene (Clomid) or letrozole (Femara) can help women ovulate, which in turn can resolve issues with PCOS and infertility.
If treatment with ovulation induction medication is not effective, then other treatments including assisted reproductive technology (ART) may be recommended. Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is usually recommended first. In vitro fertilization (IVF) may be recommended if more invasive treatment is needed.
Women with PCOS may also be able to increase their chances of getting pregnant by losing weight through a healthy diet and exercise. Losing weight can help balance hormones and make menstrual cycles (and ovulation) more regular. It can be hard to lose weight, especially if you have PCOS, so ask your doctor for guidance or resources on how to effectively lose weight to improve your fertility.
Talk to A Fertility Expert
If you have any questions about fertility and conditions like PCOS, reach out to Carolinas Fertility Institute today. We offer a wide variety of services, from fertility evaluations to In Vitro fertilization. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation by calling our Charlotte office at (844) 686-2233 or our office in the Triad at (336) 448-9100.