PCOS and Infertility - What Are My Options?
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is one of the leading causes of infertility in women. It is thought that the excess insulin produced by some women's bodies leads to their production of high levels of male hormones, or androgens. Women with PCOS are resistant to insulin, which leads to diabetes. This article explains the link between PCOS and infertility and what options there are for women with this problem.
Several follicles develop inside the ovaries during a woman's normal menstrual cycle. Each of these follicles contains an egg, also called an ovum. As the menstrual cycle continues, only one follicle survives and it eventually produces an ovum during ovulation. Luteinizing hormone (LH) levels rise sharply after the egg reaches maturity. This spike in LH causes the ripe egg to burst free of its follicle, resulting in ovulation.
What is the Link Between PCOS and Infertility?
Women with PCOS do not usually produce female hormones in sufficient amounts for ovulation, so the follicles fail to produce any eggs. Some follicles may develop into cysts. On an ultrasound, PCOS may resemble a "string of pearls" inside the ovary. This "string of pearls" is actually a number of undeveloped follicles. The outside of the ovaries will typically be covered with several small cysts. Because ovulation does not take place, no progesterone is produced. Progesterone is the hormone normally responsible for causing the lining of the uterus to thicken.
An irregular or altogether absent menstrual period are two symptoms of PCOS. The syndrome can worsen as a woman ages. Some women may ovulate irregularly, but others do not ovulate at all.
Five to ten percent of all women of childbearing age are afflicted with PCOS, although most are unaware of it. Less than 25% of all women with PCOS have ever been diagnosed as having the syndrome. Some women are fortunate and manage to conceive during an irregular ovulation cycle.
Other symptoms of PCOS include increased hair growth on the back, face or chest, thinning hair, elevated insulin levels, type two diabetes, obesity, pelvic pain or acne. Symptoms vary, however, and for some women the only symptom is an irregular period.
What Are the Options for Women With PCOS and Infertility?
PCOS obviously impairs a woman's ability to conceive due to a lack of ovulation. There are, however, several steps a woman can take to correct the problem.
Some women are able to treat their PCOS and infertility simply by losing weight, because this sometimes helps to improve hormone imbalances.
Metformin is a medication that improves the body's ability to absorb insulin. Clomid or other fertility drugs are often used for treating PCOS and infertility. Clomid blocks the brain's estrogen receptors, making the brain think the body's estrogen levels are low. This perception triggers the body to produce larger quantities of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and LH, which then signal the body to ovulate. Although Clomid frequently succeeds in causing ovulation, only thirty to forty percent of the women who ovulate following Clomid actually become pregnant.
In vitro maturation (IVM) or in vitro fertilization (IVF) are also options for women with PCOS and infertility problems. IVM is a procedure that involves harvesting a woman's immature eggs early in the cycle. The eggs are matured in a laboratory and can then be used for fertilization. IVF, on the other hand, harvests eggs that are already mature. These eggs are then fertilized and implanted in the woman's uterus.
If you have been diagnosed with PCOS and medication or complicated and expensive medical procedures are not an option for you, you may like to try Pregnancy Miracle, a natural infertility treatment program that has helped women with problems such as PCOS and endometriosis succeed in getting pregnant quickly and naturally.