PCOS and Fertility
The National Institutes of Health cites polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) as one of the most common causes of infertility in women between the ages of 20 and 35. Since symptoms of PCOS mimic other medical conditions, PCOS is often underdiagnosed as a reason for reproductive-age women experiencing difficulty getting pregnant. Viera Fertility Clinic in Melbourne provides the type of tests needed to accurately diagnose PCOS so that women with fertility issues can receive the correct treatment necessary to improve the ability to become pregnant.
Why Does Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome Reduce Fertility?
PCOS is an endocrine disorder that disrupts hormone levels and normal ovulation. It is primarily diagnosed in women who are overweight, insulin resistant, and have excess androgens in their bodies. Androgens are male hormones, such as testosterone, androstenedione (A4), and DHEA, that cause certain symptoms of PCOS and interfere with ovulation.
If you are overweight, can’t get pregnant, and have two or more of the following symptoms, your fertility problem may be due to PCOS:
- Irregular periods or absence of periods (amenorrhea)
- Low energy/fatigue
- Hirsutism (excess hair growth on the face, back, abdomen or arms)
- Adult acne that does not respond to medications
- Pelvic pain with or without periods
- Unusual mood swings
- Chronic headaches
- Poor sleep quality/insomnia/development of sleep apnea
Insulin resistance is often diagnosed in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome, a type of pre-diabetes that prevents the body from using insulin correctly. Insulin resistance is usually asymptomatic until it develops into full-blown diabetes. The only way you know you have insulin resistance is by getting your blood tested for fasting glucose levels. Although insulin resistance does not contribute to infertility, it can cause type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and increase your risk of suffering serious health issues that endanger an otherwise normal pregnancy.
Can PCOS Be Treated Successfully?
The good news is yes, polycystic ovarian syndrome is a reversible condition that may or may not require treatment medications. Losing weight, eating nutritious foods, and exercising have helped many women with PCOS stabilize hormones and return to ovulating normally. Our Melbourne fertility doctor may also prescribe Metformin if you are insulin resistant or have diabetes. Benefits of Metformin for PCOS include weight loss, restarting regular menstrual cycles, and improving the effectiveness of certain fertility drugs.
Clomid is another fertility medication given to women with PCOS that improves fertility by restoring hormone balance and triggering ovulation. When lifestyle changes and Metformin and Clomid fail to achieve pregnancy, you may be prescribed gonadotropins. Comprised of follicle-stimulating and luteinizing hormones, gonadotropins stimulate the ovaries into releasing hormones needed to increase fertility.
Can IVF Be Helpful for Women with PCOS?
Our fertility clinic in Melbourne also offers in vitro fertilization and intrauterine insemination when other methods do not result in pregnancy. If you are a good candidate for IVF, our fertility doctor will use gonadotropins to help your ovaries produce viable eggs. Once eggs are retrieved, they are placed in a petri dish containing sperm. One or two fertilized eggs are then transferred to your uterus where they implant themselves into the uterine lining and start a pregnancy.
Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is another assisted reproductive technology used by women with infertility and PCOS to achieve pregnancy. Instead of retrieving ovarian eggs and fertilizing them outside the body, your fertility doctor will insert sperm inside your uterus via catheter tubing during an IUI procedure. Before undergoing an IUI, women are given fertility drugs to generate the development of eggs. IUI is performed at the time a woman is expected to ovulate.
What Else Should Women Know About PCOS and Infertility?
Many women with PCOS enjoy healthy pregnancies after implementing changes to their lifestyle and diet, and after seeking help from Viera Fertility Clinic in Melbourne. When you do get pregnant with PCOS, you will need to regularly check your blood sugar if you are insulin resistant, eat healthy foods, take prenatal vitamins every day, and stay physically active per doctor’s recommendations.
Contact Viera Fertility Clinic today to schedule a consultation appointment if you think you may have PCOS and want to get pregnant.