Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) affects about 30% of women struggling with irregular periods. Along with changes in your appearance, including excessive hair growth (hirsutism), acne, weight gain, and difficulty losing weight, PCOS causes hormonal shifts that make it difficult to become pregnant.
Our Rocky Mountain Fertility Center team, led by Reproductive Endocrinologist Dr. Deborah Smith, has significant experience helping women overcome the infertility challenges associated with PCOS.
Check these facts about PCOS and how it affects your overall well-being, including your reproductive health.
Polycystic ovary syndrome causes imbalances in female reproductive hormones, including the overproduction of testosterone (androgens), which women naturally produce in minimal amounts.
Hormone imbalances related to PCOS may prevent eggs from maturing within the ovaries or interfere with their release during ovulation. This causes cystic follicles to build up in the ovaries and further disrupts normal ovarian function.
Typical PCOS symptoms include:
PCOS increases your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure (hypertension), and diabetes. The condition affects about 10% of women and can develop any time after puberty, but it’s often first diagnosed when a woman has difficulty becoming pregnant.
It’s unclear what causes PCOS, but family history and genetics may play a role.
Other risk factors include high insulin levels and higher-than-average levels of androgens that affect the balance of estrogen, progesterone, follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), and other female hormones necessary for egg maturation and ovulation.
Dr. Smith and our Rocky Mountain Fertility team design individualized treatment programs that meet your circumstances and needs.
That said, treatment goals and strategies for PCOS depend on your desire for pregnancy. Women not interested in pregnancy may respond best to hormonal birth control, anti-androgen medication, and medicine such as metformin to increase insulin absorption.
Notably, PCOS does require treatment to prevent health complications such as diabetes.
If you want to become pregnant, Dr. Smith may recommend weight loss through healthy nutrition and increased exercise. You may also benefit from medications that stimulate ovulation or help balance reproductive hormones, including clomiphene (Clomid) or low-dose FSH.
In vitro fertilization (IVF) may be an option if you don’t respond to medication. During IVF, a mature egg is fertilized with your partner’s sperm or donor sperm in the lab. We then place the embryo in your uterus, where it can implant and develop.
IVF takes several steps, but Rocky Mountain Fertility Center’s success rates are about 75% in women under age 35.
For more information about PCOS or other fertility services we offer, call our office in Parker, Colorado, or use our secure online service to request an appointment.