CAUSE OF INFERTILITY IN WOMEN – POLYCYSTIC OVARIAN SYNDROME (PCOS)
Polycystic ovarian syndrome is an endocrine disorder and a common cause of infertility in women. In PCOS, hormones that affect the reproductive system are abnormal leading to irregular or absent ovulation. PCOS is a common disorder affecting up to 10% of women. Women with PCOS often have polycystic ovaries. This means that the ovaries have many tiny, beings and painless cysts. During an ultrasound examination, the tiny cysts resemble a string of PEARLS.
A common finding with PCOS is abnormal high levels of Androgen (male) hormones. Whilst Androgens are found in both men and women, they are considered to be primarily male hormone.
High Androgen (male hormones) levels are associated with some of the more distressing symptoms of PCOS such as ACNE, and abnormal hair growth in women.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF POLYCYSTIC OVARIAN SYNDROME (PCOS)?
Some of the symptoms of PCOS include: Infertility, irregular or absent ovulation, absence of monthly menstrual cycle, irregular monthly cycle, recurrent miscarriage, abnormal hair growth on upper lip, chin, around nipple or on abdomen, acne, especially oily skin and hair, male pattern balding, obesity, insulin resistance, high level of androgens, elevated I.H hormone level which makes ovulation prediction kits unreliable.
PCOS does not present in the same way for all women. A woman does not need all those symptoms to be present, before it is established a woman has PCOS.
Look at it like this, many women with PCOS do not have abnormal hair growth or obesity.
HOW DOES PCOS CAUSE INFERTILITY?
The abnormal hormone level associated with PCOS leads to early miscarriages, which may be as high as 20-40%, nearly twice as high as in the general population.
Some of the reasons for the higher miscarriage rate are; poor egg quality related to premature or late ovulation. A less favorable environment for an embryo to implant in the uterine lining due to the abnormal hormone levels is another reason for the higher miscarriage rate. Another reason has to do with the insulin resistance associated with PCOS.
TREATMENT OF PCOS
Treatment of PCOS will depend on whether or not a woman is trying to get pregnant. If pregnancy is not a priority, the birth control pill (contraceptive) will help to regulate your cycle and help to reduce ACNE and unwanted hair growth. For those trying for pregnancy, the treatment of PCOS is similar to the treatment to help stimulate ovulation. Glucophage a drug usually used to treat insulin resistance is sometimes used for treatment, even if you do not have insulin resistance. If the medications do not help, then Gonadotrophins injections may be tried. If drugs alone do not work or there are other factors leading to infertility, IVF treatment may be recommended.
Studies have shown that women who are overweight with PCOS may be able to restart ovulation naturally by losing just 10% of their current weight.
A healthy diet and regular exercise may also help to restore ovulation in some but not all women with PCOS.
Check the description below to see all the series discussing the different causes and treatments of infertility in women.
Images licensed under CC: