What is PCOS?
While polycystic ovarian syndrome can directly influence the female reproductive system, the condition is technically classified as a hormonal and metabolic imbalance. Receiving the diagnosis doesn’t automatically mean that a woman is infertile. However, because PCOS can disrupt the menstrual cycle and make ovulation infrequent or hard to track, many women with the condition struggle to conceive naturally. According to recent research, roughly 5-13% of reproductive-age women have polycystic ovarian syndrome.
How PCOS influences fertility
Keep in mind that PCOS is a condition that creates a hormonal imbalance in the body. Hallmark signs of the diagnosis include having higher androgen hormonal levels, experiencing ovarian cysts, having a harder shell on the ovaries, and possibly higher insulin levels. Irregular or missed periods are another common sign of PCOS, which can directly impact fertility.
Does PCOS require IVF?
Although in vitro fertilization (IVF) is the most effective fertility treatment currently available, a woman with PCOS has several ART options. The right course of action will depend on the severity of ovulatory and physical issues. If PCOS is present with possible blockages in the fallopian tubes and uterus, or if a woman has a reduced ovarian reserve, IVF is often considered the best option to improve conception odds.
Women diagnosed with PCOS typically struggle to ovulate regularly, making natural conception difficult. To combat this problem, ovulation induction is an option. The process works by requiring a woman to take hormone supplements that stimulate the ovaries to release multiple eggs. While a drawback can be multiple births, the process also helps to correct for irregular or anovulation. When more eggs are released during a single cycle, there is a great chance of fertilization and subsequent pregnancy.
If no known uterine or fallopian tube problems are present, intrauterine insemination (IUI) may be a smarter and more affordable alternative to IVF. With IUI, sperm from a partner or donor is inserted directly into the uterus. The process ensures that more sperm can reach the egg when released. Like other fertility treatments, insemination is timed around ovulation for optimal results. Often IUI is paired with ovulation induction to boost conception.
Getting pregnant with PCOS
Having PCOS doesn’t mean a woman is automatically infertile. While the diagnosis can make natural conception a bit more difficult, plenty of women with the condition go on to successfully give birth. Although multiple solutions exist, the right option will depend on the individual patient and overall health concerns. With the proper fertility treatment, PCOS doesn’t have to stop a woman from successfully building a family.