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Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

What is PCOS?

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal condition that affects up to 1 in 5 women of childbearing age.  It is the combination of having many ovarian folliclesidentified using ultrasound, with symptoms of a hormone imbalance such as irregular periods, acne or weight gain.

What are the causes of PCOS?

The cause of PCOS is unknown but it is thought that several factors could play a role.  Genetics in particular are thought to have an influence as women with PCOS are more likely to have a mother or sister with PCOS. 

A main underlying problem is a hormonal imbalance: 

  • Many women with PCOS have too much insulin in their blood because their body does not respond to the normal amount (insulin resistance). The excess insulin has a direct effect on the way the ovary works. 
  • In women with PCOS, the ovaries appear make more androgens (male hormones) than normal. High levels of these hormones affect the development and release of eggs during ovulation. 

What are the symptoms of PCOS?

The symptoms of PCOS can vary from woman to woman, but may include: 

  • Infertility – due to not ovulating. 
  • Infrequent, absent and/or irregular menstrual periods.
  • Hirsutism – Increased hair growth on the face, chest, stomach and back. 
  • Cysts on the ovaries. 
  • Acne. 
  • Weight gain or obesity. 
  • Pelvic pain. 
  • Sleep apnea. 
  • Anxiety or depression. 

How does PCOS affect fertility?

The complex hormonal imbalance associated with PCOS causes tiny cysts on the surface of the ovaries, as well as irregular menstrual cycles (oligomenorrhoea) or no menstrual cycle (amenorrhoea).    

As a result, while most women who have PCOS will conceive, they often take longer to fall pregnant and are more likely to need fertility treatment than women without PCOS. 

PCOS at Fertility North

If you have very irregular or only sporadic periods, this may be an indication you are not ovulating and you may need medical assistance to have a baby.   

There are many simple lifestyle changes that our specialist team can assist you with that will improve your chances of conceiving, before fertility treatments like Ovulation Induction or IVF will be considered.  Our Doctors will assess your circumstances to help determine the most effective option for your individual situation. 

To arrange an appointment or to find out more about how Fertility North can help you manage your PCOS, please get in touch.