One of the most common and treatable causes of infertility in women is polycystic ovary syndrome. It affects between 5-10% of women of childbearing age. This condition is caused by an imbalance in reproductive hormones and metabolism problems. PCOS can affect your overall health and appearance.
PCOS can lead to infertility due to missed or irregular menstrual periods. It can also cause cysts to develop in the ovaries. The hormonal imbalance affects the ovaries in such a way that the egg may not develop properly or released during the monthly cycle.
Symptoms of PCOS
There are several symptoms of PCOS, some of which can affect your appearance:
- Acne on the face, chest and upper back
- Darkened skin, especially along creases in the neck, groin and underneath breasts
- Irregular or missed periods
- Excessive hair on the face, chin and parts of the body where men usually have hair
- Skin tags on the neck or in the armpits
- Weight gain or difficulty losing weight
- Thinning hair or hair loss on the scalp
While anyone can have PCOS, this condition is more prevalent in Hispanics and African American women. It is important to remember that the condition is treatable and does not preclude you from becoming pregnant.
Causes of PCOS
The exact cause of PCOS is still unknown. Experts think there are several factors at work, including genetics. High levels of androgens, or male hormones in women, can prevent ovulation during the menstrual cycle. They also cause extra hair growth and acne.
Women with PCOS also have high levels of insulin. This hormone controls the way in which food is turned into energy. Too much of it can cause insulin resistance. This can lead to type 2 diabetes.
PCOS treatment often involves medication as well as lifestyle changes. You may be advised to lose weight. Losing as little as 5% of your body weight can improve your condition. Weight loss may also help the effectiveness of medicine your doctor may prescribe to help with infertility.
Women with PCOS who wish to become pregnant may need to take medicine to help with ovulation:
- Clomiphene is an oral anti-estrogen medication that is taken during the first part of the menstrual cycle.
- Letrozole (Femara) is a breast cancer treatment that also works to stimulate the ovaries.
- Metformin is an oral medication used to treat type 2 diabetes. It lowers insulin levels and improves insulin resistance and can help with weight loss.
- Gonadotropins are hormone injections.
Your doctor will work with you to determine the best approach for treating your condition.
Neway Fertility provides exceptional care for women facing fertility challenges. If you are experiencing symptoms of PCOS or having problems conceiving, contact us today. Schedule a consultation appointment to discuss your concerns with one of our fertility specialists.