PCOS and Fertility

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) affects how a woman's ovaries work. Polycystic ovaries are bigger than healthy ovaries. They contain a large number of harmless follicles. The follicles are under-developed sacs that release eggs when you ovulate. Polycystic ovaries have twice the number of follicles than healthy ovaries do. In PCOS, these sacs are often unable to release an egg. This means that ovulation doesn't take place each month. This can cause you to stop having periods, or to have irregular periods.

It can affect many aspects of your health. It's a common condition affecting almost 1 in 5 women of childbearing age in Ireland. It can affect your:

  • Hormones
  • Periods
  • Fertility

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS

If you have signs and symptoms of PCOS, they'll usually appear during your late teens or early 20s, including:

  • Irregular or light period or no periods at all
  • Difficulty getting pregnant
  • Excessive hair growth (hirsutism)
  • Weight gain
  • Thinning hair and hair loss from the head
  • Oily skin or acne

TREATING PCOS

PCOS is one of the most common, but treatable, causes of infertility in women. The hormonal imbalance interferes with the growth and release of eggs from the ovaries - ovulation. If you don't ovulate, you can't get pregnant. This means you may have difficulty becoming pregnant.
There is no cure for PCOS. But you can manage the symptoms. You can improve symptoms and long-term health problems by losing excess weight. Medications are also available to treat symptoms such as:

  • Excessive hair growth
  • Irregular periods
  • Fertility problems

To Reduce your Risk of Complications:
  • Try and keep your weight healthy - lose weight if you are overweight
  • Quit smoking - if you smoke
  • Eat a wide variety of healthy foods
  • Exercise regularly

PCOS AND GETTING PREGNANT

For women with PCOS, the concept of starting a family can feel like it comes with extra challenges. Many women with PCOS struggle to conceive naturally, or experience significant delays, due to the absence of a reliable and trackable menstrual period.
Although not knowing when, or if, you are ovulating can slow the fertility process down, however infertility for those with PCOS can usually be overcome. Often the first step is a simple ovulation check which in some cases may include a blood test done at a clinic, indicating whether ovulation is occurring. If ovulation is erratic or non-existent an ovulation-inducing drug may be prescribed, or the doctor may choose to use a closely monitored injectable or, in more difficult cases, IVF.

STAY POSITIVE 

The chances of getting pregnant naturally, and quickly, may be lower for those with PCOS, but lifetime fertility is not impaired. Women who suffer symptoms of PCOS throughout their younger years may experience an improvement, or even remission, of the condition as they get older.


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