Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a common hormonal condition where the ovaries produce higher than normal levels of male hormones, called androgens. If you have PCOS, it may be more difficult to become pregnant, and you pose a higher risk for certain complications. But have no fear, there is hope. These risks can be reduced through early diagnosis and treatment of PCOS during pregnancy.

Understanding Polycystic Ovary Syndrome 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is one of the most common causes of female infertility, affecting 6% to 12% of US women of reproductive age. At Carolinas Fertility Institute, our team is trained and ready to help you. Understanding PCOS and the challenges you may face is the first step to a happy and healthy pregnancy. 

What Is PCOS?

According to John Hopkins Medicine, polycystic ovary syndrome describes the small cysts or fluid-filled sacs that form in the ovaries. It is important to note that not all women with this disorder develop cysts, as cysts are a symptom of PCOS, not a cause. Additionally, some women may develop cysts without having PCOS. This condition is most commonly seen in women of reproductive age and is considered one of the most common causes of infertility in women.  With proper care and treatment, getting pregnant is possible!

What Causes PCOS?

The exact cause of polycystic ovary syndrome remains somewhat a mystery, however, researchers and health care providers believe that genetics, hormone levels, and insulin resistance contribute to the diagnosis:

  • Genetics: It is common for PCOS to run in families where the risk of you developing this condition increases if your sisters, mother, or aunts have this condition.
  • Hormone levels: Women diagnosed with this condition often have hormone imbalances such as raised levels of testosterone, luteinising hormones, and low levels of sex hormones-binding globulins.
  • Insulin resistance: High levels of insulin may cause the ovaries to produce too much testosterone, which can prevent normal ovulation and interfere with the development of the sacs in the ovaries where eggs develop.

Because the exact cause is unknown, it is crucial to know the factors that may play a role in your specific journey. Luckily, there are several treatment options that can help you manage your symptoms.

What Are The Symptoms Of PCOS?

Whether or not you are trying to conceive, this condition can present itself in many different ways. Common symptoms include:

  • Irregular, infrequent, or no periods at all
  • Weight gain
  • Excessive hair growth on the chest, stomach, or back
  • Thinning hair or loss of hair from the head
  • Acne or increased oil production on the skin

Because other health problems can cause these symptoms, diagnosing PCOS may involve tests such as an ultrasound or blood tests. 

PCOS And Fertility, And How Is It Treated?

An additional symptom of PCOS is infertility. According to NIH, women with PCOS are at higher risk for certain problems or complications during pregnancy which may include:

  • Miscarriage
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Preeclampsia
  • Pregnancy-induced high blood pressure
  • Preterm birth
  • C-section delivery

Luckily, treatment is available. Treatment can depend on many factors, including your age, symptoms and severity, and overall health. If getting pregnant is your primary goal, your treatment plan may include a change in diet and activity or medications that cause ovulation, 

If you have PCOS that has been affecting your fertility, reach out to Carolinas Fertility Institute today. Our knowledgeable and dedicated staff can help answer any questions you may have. We also offer a wide variety of services, from fertility evaluations to In Vitro Fertilization. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation or call our Charlotte office at (844) 686-2233 or our office in the Triad at (336) 448-9100.