Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common hormonal disorder that affects women of reproductive age. It is characterized by the presence of multiple small cysts on the ovaries, as well as symptoms such as irregular periods, acne, and excessive hair growth. PCOS is also a leading cause of infertility, as it can make it difficult for women to ovulate and become pregnant.
Symptoms of PCOS
The most common symptoms of PCOS include irregular periods, which can be infrequent or absent altogether. Other symptoms include:
- Acne or oily skin
- Excessive hair growth on the face, chest, stomach or thighs (hirsutism)
- Thinning hair or hair loss on the scalp
- Weight gain or difficulty losing weight
- Darkened skin on the neck, under the breasts, or in other areas
- Pain or discomfort in the pelvic area
Causes of PCOS
The exact cause of PCOS is not known, but it is believed to be related to a hormonal imbalance. Women with PCOS have higher levels of androgens (male hormones) than normal. This can cause the ovaries to enlarge and develop multiple small cysts. Other factors that may contribute to PCOS include genetics, obesity, and insulin resistance.
Diagnosis of PCOS
There is no single test to diagnose PCOS, but a combination of symptoms and a physical exam can help. Your doctor may also perform a pelvic exam, an ultrasound, and blood tests to check your hormone levels. If you have PCOS, you will likely have elevated levels of androgens, as well as irregular or absent periods.
Impact on Fertility
PCOS can make it difficult for women to become pregnant because it affects ovulation. Ovulation is the process by which the ovary releases an egg, and if it does not happen regularly, it can be challenging to get pregnant. In addition, the cysts on the ovaries can interfere with the implantation of a fertilized egg.
Treatments for PCOS and Fertility
There are several options for treating PCOS, and the best one for you will depend on your symptoms and overall health. Some common treatments include:
- Birth control pills: These can regulate your periods and lower your androgen levels, making it easier to ovulate.
- Metformin: This medication is often used to treat diabetes, but it can also help women with PCOS who have insulin resistance.
- Clomiphene citrate: This medication is used to stimulate ovulation, and it can be effective in helping women with PCOS conceive.
- Lifestyle changes: Losing weight, eating a healthy diet, and getting regular exercise can all help improve symptoms of PCOS and increase your chances of getting pregnant.
PCOS can be a frustrating and challenging condition for women of reproductive age, but it is not a hopeless one. With the right treatment and lifestyle changes, many women with PCOS are able to become pregnant and have healthy babies. If you are struggling with PCOS and fertility, contact Dr. Shraddha about your options, and you can find the best path forward.