PCOS And Pregnancy – Certainly Not A Lost Cause
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal imbalance that can occur in women. According to statistics somewhere between five and ten percent of women of fertile age are calculated to have PCOS. The condition is very likely hereditary and pcos and pregnancy are usually talked about together as it is considered leading cause of female infertility.
However, with proper medication a woman with polycystic ovaries will usually be able to have a baby.
The term polycystic is actually somewhat of a misnomer, as that quite literally means “ovaries with multiple cysts”. This is incorrect since the ovary doesn’t contain cysts but follicles.
Although the term is usually referred to as a disease, it can also have certain benefits. Due to the higher levels of male hormones it will be easier to build muscle, which is something for example athletes can benefit from. And historically speaking, before we had the excess of food we have today, this gene that has a tendency to conserve energy levels was probably most beneficial.
PCOS and Pregnancy
In any case, pcos is usually mentioned in conjunction with infertility due to the fact that it affects the most important stage in the female reproductive process – the ovulation. Women with the most severe form of PCOS, also known as the Stein-Leventhal syndrome, typically need some form of treatment in order to become pregnant.
Polycystic ovaries are different in that the contain many small antral follicles containing the eggs, however these will not be develop properly. The end result being that the woman has no ovulation, and the lack of a period is not a sign of pregnancy.
The symptoms of a woman suffering from pcos can include:
– Irregular period – sometimes heavy and long menstrual flows. For some women the period stops altogether.
– Infertility due to no ovulation and obesity.
– Stronger tendency for acne, for a grownup.
– Excess facial and body hair
– In the long run a greater risk for coronary heart disease
– Obesity, particularly excess belly fat
Women with pcos will release a mature egg very rarely, if at all. Thus the rate of infertility among women with polycystic ovaries is very high. However, with the appropriate medical treatment the odds can be improved considerably.
The most common solution is to induce ovulation through medication with Clomid. This stimulates the pituitary gland to produce more follicle stimulating hormones (FSH) which in turn can bring about successful ovulation. The treatment is usually supervised through blood tests as well as ultrasound, in order to verify that ovulation has indeed occurred and to verify the appropriate amount of mature ovarian follicles.
If the medication taken orally doesn’t have the desired effect, the next step can be FSH-injections. This treatment requires even more careful supervision in order to not overstimulate.
Yet another option is IVF, in vitro fertilization, where women with pcos generally stand a very good chance of successful pregnancy. Compared to the FSH-methods however, this is a very expensive form of treatment.
Naturally, regarding all things related to pcos and pregnancy you should consult with your doctor first in order to determine what course of action is the most appropriate one for you.