Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome(PCOS)
If you are having difficulties becoming pregnant and are experiencing symptoms of pain and abnormal bleeding, you may be suffering from polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Sometimes referred to as PCO, polycystic ovarian syndrome is a disorder of the reproductive system. Many women facing PCOS find that they have difficulties conceiving a child. This is because PCOS interefere with ovulation, making it very difficult for an egg to become fertilized. Testing and treatment is availabe for those suffering from PCOS.
What is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome?
PCOS is a disorder that affects a woman's menstrual cycle. PCOS causes cysts to form on the ovaries, affecting the body's regulation of hormones and ovulation. Instead of releasing eggs monthly during ovulation, ovarian follicles rupture and become cysts, covering the ovary. Thought to affect between 6% and 10% of the population, the main hallmarks of the disorder are irregular mensturation and anovulation.
Who Gets Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome?
PCOS can affect any woman of childbearing age, though it is typically diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 30. PCOS affects women of all races and cultures. It often runs in families, though there is no known genetic component to the syndrome.
What Causes Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome?
To date, there is no known cause of PCOS, however, there are a number of theories behind the syndrome.
Hormone Deficiency: PCOS may be caused by a hormonal deficiency. Women with PCOS do not have the proper levels of hormones that are necessary to stimulate ovulation. In order to ovulate, proper levels of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) are required. Women with PCOS have abnormal levels of these hormones in their bodies, preventing regular ovulation and menstruation.
Insulin Resistance: PCOS may also be caused by insulin resistance. A large percentage of women with PCOS experience an improper response to insulin, resulting in decreased menstruation and ovulation.
Genetics: It is thought that there may also be a genetic cause for PCOS, and is tends to run in families.
What are the Symptoms of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome?
There is a wide range of symptoms caused by PCOS. Every woman who has PCOS will likely experience different symptoms. Common symptoms include:
- irregular menstruation
- irregular ovulation
- weight gain
- male pattern baldness
- insulin resistance
- uterine bleeding
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and Infertility
Unfortunately, one of the biggest complications associated with PCOS is the infertility that it often causes. Because ovulation and menstruation is so irregular, many women find it impossible to become pregnant. Some women may even lose their menstrual periods entirely. In fact, over 90% of women with irregular periods and 30% of women without periods are actually experiencing PCOS.
Diagnosing Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
If you are trying to get pregnant, your reproductive endocrinologist will likely investigate the cause of you irregular ovulation. Specific tests will be done to confirm if you are suffering from PCOS. Common tests include:
- Luteinizing Hormone Test
- Follicle Stimulating Hormone(FSH) Test
- pelvic ultrasound
Treating Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
If you are diagnosed with PCOS, there are a variety of treatments that may be suitable to help you to minimize your symptoms and restore your fertility. Common treatments include:
- Clomiphene Citrate: Clomiphene citrate, or Clomid, is a fertility drug used to help induce ovulation. It can help to restore your ovulation, so that your eggs can be retrieved for use during IVF or IUI.
- Oral Contraceptives: Oral contraceptives, like the birth control pill, can help to restore your hormones and reduce your symptoms. However, you will be unable to become pregnant while using oral contraceptives.
- Surgery: If you have PCOS, there are a variety of surgical options available to you. Wedge resection and ovarian drilling are two surgical procedures that help to restore ovulation in women with PCOS. In fact, between 70% and 90% of women who undergo these procedures, begin to ovulate within one year.