“Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome” – or PCOS – is a complicated hormonal medical condition that’s believed to affect around 10 percent of women of childbearing age. Even women who are not directly affected by the condition have very likely heard about it before. PCOS is a particularly well-known issue among women, as one of its unfortunate side effects is fertility issues. The good news? PCOS is by no means going to ruin your chances to start a family. Understanding the condition, and planning on how to properly address it, will allow you to work on your family planning efforts with a high chance of success, despite this illness’ symptom of fertility issues.
What Is PCOS?
PCOS is an endocrine system disorder that causes a woman’s body to produce excessive amounts of androgens, or androgenic hormone. While androgenic hormone is most well known as a “male hormone,” it’s also an important part of the female reproductive system, as it’s a necessary factor in the production of estrogen.
Unfortunately, PCOS patients’ bodies produce and contain higher amounts of androgens than normal, and this can cause a number of problems. Excessive hair growth, acne, elevated weight, and an increased risk of diabetes and heart disease are all possible effects of PCOS. As if that wasn’t bad enough, excess androgens also cause women to ovulate irregularly, or stop ovulation altogether. And without regular ovulation cycles to plan around, women are much more likely to have difficulties conceiving and getting pregnant.
What Can Be Done To Address PCOS fertility issues?
Unfortunately, while we understand the hormonal and physical symptoms of this disease, we still don’t know exactly what causes PCOS, so it’s not possible to prevent or cure this illness just yet. It’s currently believed that PCOS develops due to a combination of causes, including genes and environmental factors. This, however, is the limit of the definitive medical knowledge we currently have about the causes of PCOS.
For women who are currently living with PCOS, there is good news: modern day medicine has not only developed treatments for the symptoms of PCOS, but doctors can often recommend a range of options for women who want to overcome their condition and become pregnant.
Taking medications that are designed to help women regain a regular ovulation cycle often result in great success, especially for women under the age of 35. For example, taking the fertility drug clomiphene citrate has been found to help 80 percent of women with PCOS ovulate within the first three months of first taking the medication. And of these women, 30 to 40 percent get pregnant by their third treatment cycle!
Doctors also often recommend Letrozole and Metformin, two medications that have helped many women with PCOS conceive; Metformin in particularly can be helpful as it’s an insulin-sensitizing drug that can help stabilize some of the other effects of PCOS.
In addition to fertility medicine, weight loss combined with healthy lifestyle choices such as regular exercise and a nutritious diet has also been shown to help women with PCOS conceive. In some cases – if weight loss or fertility medications simply don’t work – doctors may recommend surgery or IVF treatments. Fortunately, thanks to modern medications and OTC fertility tools that can help women take advantage of the window of time where they ovulate, these more expensive and invasive options are often no longer a necessary part of family planning for women with PCOS.
While becoming pregnant when living with PCOS can be more difficult than it would be if a woman was not living with PCOS, it’s not impossible by any means. By working with doctors and following their advice, while also investing in recommended OTC tools or medical treatments that can best address her particular needs, a woman can continue in her fertility journey – and thanks to modern medicine, will likely have a high chance of success!