Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) can be a difficult diagnosis for many women to accept because it involves many undesirable symptoms, including infertility. Fortunately, lifestyle changes and medical interventions by our Texas Fertility Center team can significantly improve a woman’s symptoms, improve ovulation and increase her chances of becoming pregnant.
PCOS is a metabolic disorder that affects as many as 5-10% of women of reproductive age. Because PCOS involves a combination of different problems, our physicians at Texas Fertility Center evaluate several factors when diagnosing this disorder. These factors include anovulation (a failure to ovulate), higher-than-normal male hormone levels (increased testosterone), an impaired ability to metabolize glucose, and the presence of multiple small, fluid-filled cysts within the ovaries.
Irregular periods or chronic anovulation are the most common symptoms of PCOS. Hormone levels can be affected by PCOS and are easily evaluated through simple blood tests ordered by our Texas Fertility Center physicians. Increased blood sugar, cholesterol and male hormone levels are common with PCOS. The presence of multiple small cysts in a woman’s ovaries give them a polycystic appearance and can be discovered with a transvaginal ultrasound.
Problems associated with PCOS include:
The first line of defense in combating the symptoms of PCOS is maintaining a healthy weight. Many women with this disorder are overweight. A woman who loses even 5% of her body weight can experience a significant improvement in her symptoms.
For women with PCOS who are seeking to become pregnant, Texas Fertility Center offers many options for treatment. Obese patients are first encouraged to lose weight through lifestyle adjustments. Although the exact protocol for weight loss has not been standardized, health professionals recommend that PCOS patients eat a healthy diet that is low in carbohydrates, and to also increase their physical activity.
Even when a patient has achieved a healthy weight, she may still need help with ovulation. Metformin can be used in conjunction with fertility treatments to help the body use insulin more efficiently, and in some cases, improve the chance of natural or assisted ovulation. Metformin should be used only in patients who demonstrate glucose intolerance. Oral medications, including clomiphene citrate or letrozole, as well as injectable gonadotropins, can help induce ovulation and improve the chance of pregnancy. In vitro fertilization is also an option for a woman with PCOS who is having difficulty conceiving.
If you believe that you may have PCOS, contact the team at Texas Fertility Center to learn more about your treatment options.