PCOS is short for polycystic ovarian syndrome, a condition affecting women and causing many different health issues among which the most serious one is infertility.
This medical condition is considered a leading cause of infertility in women. PCOS is reported in 5-10% of women in their reproductive years. Still, the diagnosis is usually established once the affected woman tries to conceive an fails repeatedly.
PCOS affects a woman's menstrual cycle, interferes in ovulation and level of female hormones in the body. It is also blamed for many different physical changes, most of which are not appealing at all.
Scientist have confirmed that women suffering from PCOS have increased amounts of insulin. Increased level of insulin may stimulate production of high levels of male hormones (androgens).
Under normal circumstances, during the first half of a menstrual cycle there are several developing follicles in the ovaries. Each of these contain an egg but eventually only one follicle remains and will completely maturate and release an egg.
In women suffering from PCOS, excess male hormones significantly affects production of female hormones necessary for the process of ovulation. This is the reason why none of the available follicles actually fully develop and release an egg. Apart from having problems with ovulation, these women also experience a variety of changes regarding other phases of their menstrual cycles.
Symptoms and Signs of PCOS
Additional problems women suffering from PCOS have to face with include irregular/infrequent menstrual cycles, infertility, increased hair growth on the face, back or chest, thinning hair, obesity, elevated insulin levels and the onset of type 2 diabetes, acne and pelvis pain.
PCOS Infertility Treatment Options
Some women may become fertile again once they lose weight, improve hormone imbalance and restore normal menstrual cycles.
As far as elevated insulin is concerned, it is usually brought under control with dietary changes or some medications like metformin.
Fertility can be boosted with fertility drugs. Such women are commonly prescribed Clomid, a drug that can efficiently block estrogen receptors. Once the level of estrogen becomes too low, the body increases production of FSH and LH, both of which cause further stimulation of ovaries and eventually cause ovulation. There are several more fertility drugs women with PCOS may benefit from but they basically act directly on the process of ovulation. These are gonadotropins (FSH and LH) and are administered via injections.
Certain number of women undergo ovarian drilling, a procedure performed to destroy small potions of the ovary and this way decrease the level of androgens.
If all the mentioned fails, women with PCOS undergo in vitro maturation (IVM) or in vitro fertilization (IVF).