How PCOS Affects Fertility
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) affects a woman’s hormone levels and ability to ovulate. Excess androgen creates multiple cysts that block the ovaries. Treatment includes medication, healthy lifestyle habits, ovarian drilling, and in vitro fertilization (IVF).
Understanding Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
PCOS is a hormonal imbalance disorder. Women with PCOS produce high amounts of LH or insulin. The imbalance of these hormones causes the ovaries to produce more testosterone. PCOS affects women in different ways, but the typical symptoms are irregular menstrual cycles, ovarian cysts, excess body hair, alopecia, weight problems, dark skin patches, and acne. Obesity plays a big role in PCOS as well as insulin resistance. The ovarian cysts prevent eggs from reaching maturity and, many times, stop ovulation. Lack of ovulation lowers levels of estrogen, progesterone, follicle-stimulating hormones (FSH), and luteinizing hormone (LH) in the female body. Pregnancy cannot occur without ovulation.
Tip #1: Medication
Medication is often prescribed to correct hormone levels. Fertility drugs stimulate and restore ovulation. Some classes of drugs that are typically used to treat diabetes can help with PCOS. Often medications are used to help combat the weight gain often associated with this hormone imbalance.
Tip #2: Lifestyle changes
Lifestyle changes such as a healthy diet and exercise often lower obesity-related complications. Losing weight helps rebalance the body’s hormone levels. Quitting smoking, controlling glucose levels, and reducing stress are additional steps that can be taken to improve fertility.
Tip #3: Ovarian drilling
Ovarian drilling involves using electric currents to make small holes in the ovaries. PCOS can cause the outer layers of the ovaries to thicken. Ovarian drilling breaks through the thick outer layer, reducing testosterone levels and improving ovarian function.
Tip #4: IVF
IVF is a highly effective treatment for women with ovulation disorders. During IVF, fertilization occurs outside of the body and then the embryo is transferred into the female uterus. Eggs from the mother or a donor can be used. IVF operates in a controlled environment, increasing the chances of conception and successful pregnancy.
How does PCOS affect fertility?
Approximately 75% of all women with PCOS experience fertility problems. A small number of women with PCOS have no trouble getting pregnant and can conceive naturally. Most women, however, will need to undergo fertility treatments in order to become pregnant. Fortunately, PCOS is treatable.
Pregnancy with PCOS is possible
Polycystic ovarian syndrome affects ovarian function. Medication can be used to help restore hormone imbalances and decrease PCOS symptoms. Lifestyle changes and ovarian drilling can also increase fertility and make pregnancy possible. Women with PCOS should consult with a healthcare provider regarding pregnancy and fertility.