Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the number one cause of infertility in women. Your ovaries have small, fluid-filled sacs which hold eggs. When the egg matures, the sac, or cyst, breaks open and the egg is released and travels to the uterus. If you have PCOS, the sac does not open, instead remaining in the ovary as a cyst. Without ovulation, there can’t be pregnancy. . The good news is that, with treatment, most women with PCOS are able to get pregnant.
Many women find out they have PCOS after having missed periods. You might go for months without menstruating and then have a very heavy period that lasts for several weeks. Some women with PCOS get only a few periods each year. Other women may not realize they have PCOS until after trying to get pregnant for several years without success
Screening for Fertility Problems
Usually, your doctor will rule out any other possible causes of infertility before starting treatment to help you become pregnant. For example, you and your spouse will probably need to talk with a fertility specialist and both will be tested for fertility problems.
Creating a Treatment Plan
Once your doctor determines that PCOS is the cause of your difficulties in becoming pregnant, he mightr recommend medication. These medications, such as clomiphene citrate (Clomid, Serophene) promote ovulation. Other medications, such as metformin and Gonadotropins, which might be used in addition to clomiphene citrate. You might also need another medication to induce your period. The medication Provera is often used for this use, however, you need to take this on a regular basis to help promote a regular cycle.
When taking fertility medications your doctor will monitor you closely, taking blood tests to check for ovulation. Several weeks later, your doctor will take a blood test to test for pregnancy. If no pregnancy occurs, you receive a refill for the fertility medication and the cycle starts again. For some women, this continues for many months or even years.
Lapraroscopic ovarian drilling is sometimes used if other fertility treatments do not work. This is a surgical procedure that uses electrocauterization or lasers to destroy part of the ovary to help trigger ovulation.
Unfortunately, insurance companies do not always pay for these medications and the cost is quite expensive. Before beginning these fertility treatments, talk to your insurance company to find out what is covered and what costs you and your spouse must bear.
Many women with PCOS are overweight. Losing weight can help regulate your insulin and hormones to promote more regular cycles, which increases your chances of becoming pregnant. Try increasing your intake of whole grains, vegetables, fruits and lean meats. Decrease sugar and carbohydrates.
Some doctors recommend you take prenatal vitamins during fertility treatments. Talk to your doctor to determine if this is best for you.
Problems and Complications During Pregnancy
Women with PCOS might have a higher risk of certain pregnancy-related problems:
- Pregnancy induced high blood pressure
- Gestational diabetes
- Premature delivery
Once you become pregnant, it is important to be closely monitored by your doctor. Current studies are looking at whether the medication metformin can help to reduce some of these complications. Talk to your doctor about possible complications and what you can do to help reduce the risk of developing these problems.
"Does PCOS Affect Pregnancy," Updated 2013, July 30, Staff Writer, National Institutes of Health
"Infertility - Treatment," reviewed 2012, Nov 11, Staff Writer, NHS.uk
"Polycystic Ovary Syndrome," Updated 2007, Nov, Staff Writer, American Pregnancy Association
"Polycystic Ovary Syndrome," Reviewed 2012, Feb 26, Reviewed by Linda J. Vorvick, M.D., A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia
"Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) Fact Sheet," Updated 2012, July 16, Reviewed by Esther Eisenberg, M.D., Office of Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.