Polycystic ovary syndrome, also known as PCOS, is a common disorder related to an imbalance in a woman’s sex hormones that can create various symptoms while impacting your fertility. If you are in the childbearing age group, your body regularly develops small, fluid-filled cysts (follicles) on your ovaries. Your estrogen hormone works by making follicles that create a mature egg. Once the ovary releases it, it escapes the follicle.
The Problem With PCOS
The problem for women dealing with PCOS is that they have an imbalance of their female sex hormones. This interferes with the creation and release of a mature egg so that neither ovulation nor pregnancy can take place. You might also find yourself with a higher amount of testosterone (typically a male sex hormone) instead of the normal lower levels. PCOS typically impacts 5–10 percent of women who fall between the ages of 15–44 years, and around half of the women dealing with PCOS either end up with prediabetes or diabetes before they turn 40.
So what causes PCOS? While we don’t know the exact reason that PCOS occurs, it does seem to be related to genetics. So if a direct relative, like your mother or sister, has PCOS, you are at a higher potential risk of having it too. Also, if your body creates an overabundance of insulin, that can also raise your risk of getting PCOS. This hormone is created by your pancreas so your body can convert sugar in the food you consume into energy. This also means you will likely find yourself being insulin resistant, where your body can’t lower your blood sugar to healthy levels. This excess insulin also boosts unhealthy levels of testosterone.
PCOS Symptoms To Look Out For
You might notice unusual hair growth on your face, chest, or back while your head hair might thin out. Weight gain is common, along with developing acne and skin tags. If you experience infertility, you’ll likely find yourself dealing with irregular periods, ovarian cysts or depression, although symptoms may vary.
How PCOS Impacts the Body
Women with PCOS have a higher risk of the following:
- Depression and anxiety
- Endometrial cancer
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol levels
- Sleep apnea
- Weight gain
While there aren’t really specific tests to take to determine PCOS, we can evaluate your health with a physical, look at your medical history, and take an ultrasound and blood tests to measure hormone levels and glucose levels. If you have been diagnosed with PCOS we invite you to work with one of our dedicated reproductive endocrinologists to help you achieve your fertility goals.
Even though no one has a cure yet for PCOS, you can, however, always manage your symptoms and seek treatment. For example, taking birth control pills can relieve hormonal imbalances while insulin-sensitizing medications can help your body process insulin and lower testosterone levels. If you have diabetes, there are medications to help maintain optimal blood sugar levels. As with many things when it comes to the body, combining a healthy, balanced diet with exercise can also improve your overall health and help with PCOS as well.
Fertility Options for PCOS
If you are seeking help managing your PCOS, our reproductive endocrinologists can prescribe medications that can help with your menstrual cycles and boost ovulation. If medications don’t help, surgery, such as laparoscopic ovarian drilling can help reduce testosterone so that regular ovulation can take place. Whatever your fertility issues are, our experienced Idaho Fertility Center team has options for you to explore. Please call 208-529-2019 with your questions or to schedule a consultation.