Is PCOS Causing Your Fertility Issues?

Some women experience various symptoms that many would chalk up to stress. Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) could be at play when these symptoms happen more frequently. No sign is more evident than the inability to get pregnant. For the millions of American women with PCOS, infertility is a concerning reality. Getting pregnant without PCOS can be challenging for some, so the diagnosis can make family planning even more difficult. Understanding all the treatment options, including in vitro fertilization (IVF), can help women navigate PCOS.

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What symptoms affect women with PCOS?

PCOS is a hormonal condition in women where the ovaries produce excess androgens, the male sex hormones. As a result, women experience various symptoms, the most common being multiple cysts on the ovaries. Excess androgens also cause irregular ovulation or stop the process, affecting fertility. Other common symptoms include weight gain, acne, or hair along the jawline, and hair loss. PCOS can also be a risk factor for endometrial cancer, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, obesity, and depression. To determine if a woman has PCOS, a medical team will review the patient’s medical history and test hormone levels. High androgen levels, irregular periods, and an ultrasound can help diagnose PCOS.

Time for treatment

Some women can ignore the signs of PCOS for years. However, at some point, treatment will be an essential part of overall health and improving fertility. Treatment for PCOS depends on the patient’s desire to get pregnant. Some doctors will recommend contraceptives, medication like GnRH agonists, and metformin for women who do not wish to get pregnant. Women hoping to get pregnant may be prescribed clomiphene citrate, letrozole, or metformin to help with fertility. All PCOS patients can benefit from lifestyle changes, including a healthy diet, exercise, and quitting smoking.

Is IVF an option?

If women with PCOS are still struggling to get pregnant, in vitro fertilization can help. The first goal is to regulate the period and stop the side effects of PCOS. This can take several weeks or months and may even involve contraceptive medication. Once there is a regular period, the IVF process can begin. The woman will begin hormone medication to promote egg production. The fertility clinic will then extract the eggs and create embryos with a sperm sample. The best embryo can then be transferred into the uterus, with the rest frozen until later. Studies show that women with PCOS have high success rates with IVF.

Pregnancy is possible

PCOS can cause a range of long-term challenges, which include infertility. There are different medications and lifestyle changes that can help. However, women still struggling to get pregnant can benefit from IVF. Factors like age, sperm quality, and egg quantity can all impact the success rate of IVF. However, this procedure is one of the best ways to achieve pregnancy for many women with PCOS.

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