Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a disorder that impacts many aspects of a woman’s life – including fertility. In fact, up to 10% of the female population in the United States has symptoms or a diagnosis of PCOS.
What are the symptoms of PCOS?
Symptoms vary from woman to woman. The most common have been documented as:
1. Irregular periods or absence of a menstrual period (also known as amenorrhea)
2. Facial hair – usually developing in the late teens or early 20’s and continuing, even worsening, over time.
3. Weight gain- usually substantial and not attributed to other reasons – such as thyroid conditions
4. Polycystic appearing ovaries - eggs getting “stuck” in early stage of development
5. Hormonal inbalance – too much testosterone
6. Difficulty with becoming pregnant
Our blog team surveyed several women, many patients of ours, who have been diagnosed with PCOS and asked them to share about their “first signs” of having PCOS. Most were in agreement that facial hair and weight gain were often the first obvious symptoms that something was amiss and most stated that the issues started when they began having their menses. Additionally, painful periods were what lead many to their physicians.
One response was as follows:
“I was diagnosed pretty young, I think I was about 12. My pediatrician actually noticed excessive hair growth on my chin and neck, and weight gain”
I found out I had PCOS when I was 13. I had a torsion in which my right ovary and Fallopian tube became entangled due to a large cyst. I had to have my whole right side removed. From then it's been a battle every month with getting painful cysts on my left side. I usually end up in ER when it gets really bad. The only relief I have found is staying on birth control pills which has helped me to lead a somewhat normal life.
Diagnosis of PCOS
A series of tests are typically required in order to properly diagnose PCOS. Most often includes blood tests to check hormone levels, an ultrasound of the ovaries to see atypical sized follicles and a survey of questions regarding diet, family history, etc. Many times patients will say that having a final diagnosis of PCOS can release them of much worry and also give relief that there is now a “reason” for their problems with a course of action.
Watch a video of Dr. Norian discussing PCOS diagnosis and the impact it can have on fertility
The literal pain associated with PCOS and difficulties with fertility are often described as taking an emotional toll on the woman with PCOS (and possibly her partner.) For some, holistic and medical intervention to help with the emotionality behind the disorder may be ordered by a physician. Also, support groups can be helpful as well as other methods for keeping mentally healthy, such as journaling.
One patient who was diagnosed in 2009 and still feels the extreme challenges of PCOS - offers these “fighting words”…
DONT EVER GIVE UP THE FIGHT!.. PCOS may HAVE ME...But I will not let PCOS take me DOWN UNDER!.. Honestly that is my "Positive"
Treatment of PCOS
While every patient with PCOS will undergo a different treatment course, these are possible recommendations:
1. A course of medication to balance hormones.
2. To stimulate ovarian functioning, if infertility is diagnosed
3. Special exercise regimens are instituted to help with combating symptoms, especially weight gain.
4. Holistic approach – such as dietary changes to include whole grains, etc. to help with ovarian functioning
Can you still become a mother if you have PCOS?
Our staff at HRC Rancho Cucamonga are equipped to help our patients with PCOS maximize their ability to become a parent. Many steps may be needed, but in time, our patients often find a baby at the end of their PCOS infertility treatment journey!
Recently, we heard from one of our PCOS patients who is expecting her bundle of joy very soon! Here is what she said about her journey to parenthood via PCOS and her pearls of wisdom for others.
I had many doctors tell me my case was so severe that it was unlikely I could have kids. Luckily, I found Dr. Norian who helped us to beat the odds and beat PCOS with a little miracle. There is hope…
For more information about PCOS please refer to these resources:
This article was authored by staff writers for HRC Fertility-