Midwest Reproductive Center

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, PCOS

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, PCOS

One of the leading causes of infertility in women is polycystic ovarian syndrome, PCOS. This syndrome is a common disorder that affects 5-10% of all women and nearly 30% of women with infertility. The symptoms vary between individuals and you may not recognize that you have the condition.

Polycystic ovarian syndrome is a hormonal disorder that usually affects ovulation. The ovaries often contain multiple small follicles, where eggs are just beginning to grow. The ovaries may also produce increased amounts of male hormones called androgens, which can interfere with egg maturation and prevent regular ovulation.

The symptoms of polycystic ovarian syndrome

You may have PCOS if you have two of the following symptoms:

  • Irregular menstrual cycles
  • Excessive facial and body hair, acne, or elevated androgen levels
  • Polycystic appearance of the ovaries on ultrasound

Your doctor will need to do certain blood tests to make sure that there is not another hormone condition, such as thyroid disease or a problem with the pituitary or adrenal glands, which can cause similar symptoms.

Although polycystic ovarian syndrome was first identified more than seven decades ago, the cause of the condition is not yet known. Early treatment of PCOS can help to decrease long-term health risks like adult-onset diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, endometrial cancer and stroke.

There are several treatments for PCOS

Treatment usually includes lifestyle modifications such as eating a healthy diet and regular aerobic exercise. Studies have shown that if you lose even 5% of your current weight, you can significantly improve your chance of conceiving.

Medications can also help you ovulate. Some examples include Clomid, Femara and Gonadotropins, depending on your doctor’s recommendation. Metformin is another medication that may help you respond better to the fertility medications.

The good news is that PCOS is a very treatable cause of infertility, and you have a great chance for getting pregnant with the help of your doctor.

For More Information from ASRM on PCOS