PCOS is an abbreviation for polycystic ovary syndrome. This is a medical condition closely related to anovulation and subsequent infertility. The condition is also known as polycystic ovaries and polycystic ovarian disease.
Women suffering from PCOS do not ovulate regularly i.e. their ovaries do not release an egg each month. This way the chance for a woman to conceive significantly decreases. Her ovaries are covered with cysts. These are usually small, approximately 2-9 mm in diameter. The condition is easily confirmed with gynecological ultrasound.
Normal Ovulation and Its Importance
During a normal menstrual cycle, a mature follicle eventually releases an egg. Such follicle is between 18 and 28 mm in diameter. So, there is usually one or sometimes several follicles ready to release an egg. In women, suffering from PCOS there are many immature follicles i.e. nonfunctional follicles unable to completely mature and release an egg. There is no ovulation and without ovulation a woman cannot get pregnant.
Clinical Characteristics of PCOS
Women suffering from PCOS typically have irregular menstrual cycles (oligomenorrhea). It is possible to experience a complete lack of periods (amenorrhea).
One more characteristic of the condition is hirsutism (abnormal and excessive growth of hair-especially on the face and body areas which are normally not covered with thick and dark hair). Hair on the skull becomes thinner and may eventually recede. Obesity as well as problems with the level of insulin occur as well. Majority of symptoms and signs of PCOS are actually a consequence of increased level of testosterone in the blood.
PCOS and Infertility
The infertility rate in women suffering from PCOS is rather high. Because of great difficulty to get pregnant, such women frequently require treatments which will improve their ovulation and increase chances of conceiving. Women who occasionally release an egg are in better position comparing to those who do not ovulate at all. Fortunately, even these women do not have to worry because treatments are successful and they may eventually get pregnant and have a child. Fertility treatments for this condition are available and work very good.
It is possible to stimulate the ovaries and induce ovulation during which an egg is released and can be fertilized. One more solution includes in-vitro maturation and in-vitro fertilization. In-vitro maturation is a technique which involves egg harvesting before an egg fully develops. Complete maturation is then achieved in a laboratory. What follows is in-vitro fertilization i.e. fertilization of an egg outside the body and its further injection in the uterus. The process is considered effective and many women suffering from PCOS can successfully conceive this way.