PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome), is a very complex prevalent health condition resulting in an hormonal imbalance, and is a major cause of infertility in women. September, is National PCOS Awareness Month, and the perfect timing to delve into the details on how PCOS affects your fertility.  Melvin Thornton, MD of CT Fertility in Trumbull, CT explains what PCOS is, how it affects your fertility, and the treatment options that may help you manage PCOS and grow your family.

PCOS Explained

What is PCOS and what are its symptoms? PCOS, is a very prevalent, worldwide health condition of unknown cause, although considered to be an hormonal issue. Everyone, women and men, produce androgen hormones. They’re often thought of as male hormones since men produce significantly higher levels than women, and they play a key role in developing male sex organs and male traits. Typically, in women, androgens convert into estrogen. However, women with PCOS don’t convert the androgens normally that result in abnormal excess levels. They are often the culprits for symptoms such as acne, unwanted hair, thinning hair, and irregular periods. There are also other hormonal imbalances, such as abnormal response to insulin essential for sugar absorption for cell energy. This can result in elevated sugar levels in the blood, and even drive the androgen levels higher.

– the elevated levels cause ovulation issues.  Often, one of the symptoms women with PCOS experience is missed or irregular menstruation.

Other symptoms of PCOS include:

  • Anxiety & depression
  • Weight gain
  • High insulin levels
  • Excess body & facial hair
  • Ovarian cysts
  • Pelvic pain
  • Acne
  • Thinning hair on the head
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Poor sleep

Just as there is no known cause of PCOS, there’s no one test that can diagnose the condition. Often the diagnosis of PCOS will be elicited by a full medical history is essential, that can be assisted by a dedicated panel of lab tests, and a pelvic ultrasound, to rule out other causes of your symptoms. If you’re experiencing any combination of the symptoms described above and have had difficulty getting pregnant, CT Fertility in Trumbull, CT may be able to help. Call us at 914-251-4151 or email ctfertilityinfo@integramed.com to see if PCOS could be affecting your fertility.

PCOS & Pregnancy

Women with PCOS can and do become pregnant! Your doctor will discuss which options may be best for you. Common non-fertility and fertility drug treatments include:

  • Metformin: Some women with PCOS will benefit from Metformin, may improve your overall health by lowering high insulin and blood glucose levels and normalizing your androgen hormone levels. These effects may assist in regulating your cycle, and reducing your weight.
  • Clomiphene citrate: can be beneficial in helping women with PCOS get pregnantby improving the function of your ovaries in recruiting eggs that will undergo ovulation.
  • Gonadotropins: Often recommended when other measures and medications have not been sucessful, these naturally occurring hormones stimulate your ovaries to produce one or more eggs. Doctors can turn to gonadotropins for patients who don’t respond well to treatment with clomiphene citrate.

Lifestyle Changes

Weight is often looked at when it comes to PCOS and infertility. Excess weight affects your hormone levels, so losing weight is often the first step to getting your hormones back to normal levels. Overweight women who lose as little as 5-10% of their body weight may see an improvement in ovulation, menstruation, and insulin sensitivity.  Many women with PCOS find it tougher to shed pounds than those who do not have PCOS. Despite this, the effort is well worth it. Move in whatever way feels good to you – walking, yoga, swimming, dancing. And improve your diet by replacing processed foods with whole grains and food high in dietary fiber. Moderate exercise and a healthy diet not only help improve your odds of becoming pregnant, they can also reduce your risk of chronic diseases, lower stress levels, and contribute to your overall health and well-being.

If you have, or suspect you may have, PCOS and would like more information please call 914-251-4151 or email ctfertilityinfo@integramed.com to make an appointment. Your care team will assess your specific situation and determine the best course of treatment to put you on the path to parenthood.