OK, in this short post we’ll be taking a closer look at Polycystic Ovaries. It is often known as PCOS with the PC standing for PolyCystic part and the OS standing for Ovarian Syndrome. Research has shown clearly that there is a connection between having polycystic ovaries and infertility. We have a larger article on PCOS here.
There are several factors that can contribute to cause PCOS thus the medical profession regard it as a complex condition. Excessive production of Insulin is a common factor in PCOS and this can lead to production of the male hormone testosterone which in turn harms the development of healthy eggs by the follicles.
Let’s look at an ordinary menstrual period where a woman produces between 10 to 20 egg follicles. This process occurs after FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) is produced. Only one single egg matures in reaction to surging LH (Luteinising Hormone), the egg then will burst forth and begin the journey along one of the fallopian tubes. This is actually ovulation with the egg now ready and primed to be joined by a healthy strong swimming sperm that wins the race out of millions of sperm and fertilizes the egg.
The issue with women with PCOS is that there is inadequate production of female hormones needed to induce ovulation. The eggs inside the follicles cannot mature without the right hormone boost so follicles without eggs are the result.
What are the classic symptoms with PCOS?
- Absent or irregular periods
- Growth of excess hair on the face
- Growth of hair on the back or chest
- The hair on the head may become thin
- Skin disorders such as acne
- Being obese
- Being infertile
Some other reported symptoms are: breast pains, pain to the pelvic region, depression, dizziness, increased levels of insulin, mood swings and recurrent miscarriages.
PCOS can get worse with age and this is quite a normal feature of the disease. PCOS is one of those diseases that women may have for years but be unaware of having the problem, however, approximately 75% of females with ovulation problems trace back to PCOS as the origin of the problem.
If your physician suspects PCOS they will confirm the diagnosis with ultrasound imaging on the ovaries and in addition blood hormone level tests.
The condition of PCOS disrupts the accuracy of ovulation test kits so these cannot be used to provide reliable information for PCOS affected women.
Currently, the principle explanation for PCOS is insulin resistance so lifestyle modification like changes of diet, weight reduction and increasing exercise may all help. If after consultation your health care professional assesses your weight, diet or activity level to be poor they will often prescribe these changes for you. Read my page on healthy eating for more information on a good diet.
Metformin is a pharmaceutical drug that doctors often prescribes in case of PCOS that helps the body absorb insulin. Yet another drug is Clomid; this pharmaceutical drug is used in PCOS cases also but works to increase a woman’s fertility by boosting FSH (follicle stimulating hormone).
In some PCOS cases that prove difficult to treat by simpler means, IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) or IVM (In vitro maturation) may be recommended.
Huge advances in Fertility science and technologies have meant there is now hope for millions of women that suffer from PCOS and wish to have a baby. For a more in-depth article on PCOS and PCOS treatments for Infertility click here.