Understanding Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a condition that can cause a hormonal imbalance in women and also impact metabolism. The condition is very common among women who are of reproductive age. With PCOS, a woman may experience irregular periods, but when menses occurs, the period is longer than the average range of 3-7 days. While the condition does impact the ovaries, PCOS doesn’t automatically make a woman infertile. However, achieving conception can be more difficult and may require medical intervention.
So is most infertility caused by PCOS?
PCOS is not the only cause of infertility, but the condition is one of the most common causes. Along with PCOS, other contributors to female infertility can include physiological issues with the uterus and fallopian tubes and problems with the quality and quantity of eggs produced by the ovaries. Conditions like endometriosis, uterine fibroids, being over-or underweight, hormonal imbalances, and being older can all contribute to an increased chance of female infertility.
How PCOS impacts the chances of conception
Often, women who have PCOS also have a hormonal imbalance which can impact ovulation. Specifically, research has shown that a PCOS diagnosis can potentially cause higher hormone levels, the development of fluid-filled sacs on the ovaries, a thicker outer shell on the ovary, and higher insulin levels in the blood. All of the above can throw a woman’s ovulation off, causing irregular or missed periods. Studies have shown that women with PCOS have an infertility rate of 70-80%.
Getting pregnant with PCOS
PCOS can make conception harder to achieve, but women diagnosed with the condition shouldn’t give up hope. The condition is manageable, and many women can go on to conceive and experience healthy pregnancies. If a woman with PCOS wants to get pregnant, speaking to a fertility specialist is a good idea. The specialist will first work to correct ovulation issues, as well as address any potential metabolic concerns like insulin resistance. Helping to pinpoint and regulate ovulation is a key step towards successfully conceiving.
Correcting problems with ovulation
Typically physicians will tackle infertility concerns by prescribing medications or additional hormone therapies to help regulate and encourage a woman’s ovulation. Some medications block estrogen feedback to stimulate the ovaries. Other drugs help to encourage regular periods and ovulation. Meanwhile, some injectable hormones help stimulate ovulation.
PCOS and conception chances
PCOS can be a troubling diagnosis for many women to receive, but the condition doesn’t mean that a woman can’t conceive or successfully carry a pregnancy to term. While addressing infertility issues is important for people with PCOS, another key focus should be to pinpoint and correct or manage any other underlying health concerns that may be aggravated by the diagnosis. For more information about getting pregnant with PCOS, speak with a healthcare provider.