Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), also known as a polycystic ovarian syndrome, is a common health problem caused by an imbalance of reproductive hormones. The hormonal imbalance creates problems in the ovaries.
They are responsible for releasing eggs every month for a healthy menstrual cycle. With PCOS, the egg may not develop as it should or its release may get delayed and ovulation might be missed.
PCOS can cause missed or irregular menstrual periods. Irregular periods can lead to:
- Infertility (inability to get pregnant).
- Development of cysts (small fluid-filled sacs) in the ovaries that leads to the release of androgen, can even cause cancer.
How do you know you have PCOS?
Signs and symptoms of PCOS may vary and the diagnosis is made if you experience at least two of these signs:
- Irregular periods- (Infrequent, irregular or prolonged) For example, you might have less than nine periods a year, sometimes abnormally heavy periods or more than 35 days gap between two.
- Excess androgen- Raised levels of male hormone can lead to excessive growth of facial and body hair (hirsutism), and seldom severe acne and male-pattern baldness.
- Polycystic ovaries- Your ovaries might be enlarged and can have follicles that surround the eggs. In this case, ovaries aren't able to function well.
What causes polycystic ovary syndrome?
Doctors have yet to find the exact cause of PCOS. However, several factors may play a role in whether or not you develop PCOS. These include:
- Ovaries producing high levels of androgen.
- A low-grade inflammation that stimulates ovaries to produce androgens.
- Heredity, if there's a history of PCOS or diabetes in your family.
- Excess production of insulin, this happens when cells fail to use insulin properly. Body's demand for insulin might rise and pancreas will produce more of it. Insulin is generally to balance the sugar level in blood but it also triggers ovaries to produce more male hormones.
Can You Have a Baby if You Have PCOS Problem?
During PCOS it might be difficult to get pregnant as the high levels of male hormones prevent the release of an egg. The release of an egg from the ovary is called ovulation, this typically happens about once a month. Women with PCOS may ovulate less frequently or predictably, they also become more prone to miscarriages.
Usually, couples try to conceive during the time of ovulation, but in this case, as days aren't fixed of ovulation (sometimes even ovulation itself isn't fixed) so there's no conception. Females, in this case, are termed infertile.
Women with PCOS sometimes have complications like:
- high blood pressure induced by the pregnancy
- gestational diabetes
Here’s How People With PCOS Can Improve Their Fertility:
Reduced weight can assist with fertility, if a woman is above a healthy weight, weight management and physical activity is the first treatment option. Even reductions of 5-10% in weight have proven to be effective. Recommendations are to either obtain a healthy weight or considerate weight loss before pregnancy. This can reduce difficulties during pregnancy.
If lifestyle and weight loss aren't proving to be helpful, then the doctor may recommend a referral to a fertility specialist for ovulation induction. If aged more than 35 than you might consider early referral to a fertility specialist. Called ovulation induction, the procedure is designed to stimulate the ovary to boost egg production.
Ovulation induction uses tablets or injections over some time. Ultrasounds and blood tests are performed to determine the best time to trigger ovulation using a hormone called HCG. Once ovulation has been triggered, by natural human reproduction or inter-uterine insemination semen is introduced. In inter-uterine insemination, semen is placed directly into the uterus through the cervix. Ovulation induction is not recommended for women with a BMI greater than 35 and PCOS.
Metformin is a diabetes medication used to treat insulin resistance. It is sometimes prescribed even if women aren’t actually insulin resistant. Using metformin for PCOS is considered off-label use. The drug is relatively safe and may help women with PCOS get pregnant, but it shall only be used with a doctor's consult. Without a prescription, it is hazardous for health as well as illegal.
According to the research, metformin may:
- Help you lose weight
- Restart regular menstrual cycles
- Improve the effectiveness of some fertility drugs
- Reduce the rate of miscarriage (only in those with repeated miscarriage)
Infertility can be a very heartbreaking thing, especially if you’ve wanted kids for a long time and are suddenly dropped with the bombshell saying you can never conceive. Don’t lose hope! There’s still a way you can conceive and bring home your bundle of joy and happiness! IVF is a very viable and safe option for you to make your dreams of having babies come true.