PCOS – polycystic ovary syndrome – is a disorder that you’ll often hear associated with infertility. It’s a diagnosis many infertile women dread and one that doctors hate to deliver.
But having PCOS doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll never have a baby. Early diagnosis is super important as is getting the right treatment. Understanding the disease is helpful as well so it’s wise to be educated about it, especially before and during treatment.
What is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome ?
PCOS is considered a hormonal disorder and is diagnosed among females of child-bearing age, mostly women in their 20s and 30s.
However, the disorder can occur any time after puberty and before the onset of menopause. There’s no real answer as to why it affects some women and not others though there are factors that could contribute to its development.
The disorder is characterized by either infrequent menstrual periods or prolonged heavy periods, and women who have PCOS have a high level of androgen, a male hormone, in their bodies. Other women with the disorder have high levels of insulin in their body as well, caused by insulin resistance. This is especially true in women who are overweight or obese or those who have poor eating habits.
When PCOS is present and hormones are imbalanced, the ovaries often develop a number of small follicles and do not regularly release eggs during ovulation. This, of course, prevents conception, which is why PCOS is so often associated with infertility.
Can I still get pregnant if I have PCOS?
A diagnosis of PCOS doesn’t have to mean the end of your dreams to have a family with biological children of your own. With the right reproduction specialist leading the way, it is possible that you can become pregnant.
After your diagnosis of PCOS, your doctor can consult with you about ways to prompt ovulation so that you can raise your chances of getting pregnant.
- Lifestyle changes – Changing the way you eat and how much you exercise can actually improve your condition. Researchers found that even a small change in weight – perhaps losing about 5-10% of your body weight – can help. Losing weight can also improve the effectiveness of the medications your doctor might prescribe for your condition.
- Medications – There are a number of medications your fertility specialist can prescribe to assist you with ovulation.
- Clomid/Clomiphene, an anti-estrogen med that is taken during the first part of your cycle.
- Letrozole/Femara, often used to prevent breast cancer but also good for stimulating the ovaries.
- Gonadotropins, a hormone medication given by injection.
- Metformin, often used in conjunction with clomid. It improves insulin resistance and works to lower insulin levels.
Work to decrease the effects of PCOS
Remember that a diagnosis of PCOS doesn’t mean children aren’t in your future. However, if you work hard to take care of yourself, including maintaining a healthy weight and an active lifestyle, you can keep insulin levels down and increase your chances of getting pregnant.
Your fertility doctor or your general practitioner can assist you in finding a weight loss programs that might work for you and exercise that will simply get you moving. You don’t need to run a marathon to relieve your PCOS symptoms; walking each day, riding a bike, walking on a treadmill, or even lifting light weights can help prevent insulin resistance, keep your weight steady, and keep you from developing full-blown diabetesGo back