Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common hormonal disorder among women of reproductive age. The main features of PCOS include irregular menstrual periods, elevated levels of androgens (male hormones) and enlarged ovaries with multiple small cysts on the outer edges.
Fertility issues are common in women with PCOS. Ovulation problems are the most common cause of infertility in these women. Up to 70% of women with PCOS have difficulty ovulating. This can be due to the increased testosterone levels associated with the condition.
What is ovulation?
Ovulation is the release of an egg from one of the ovaries. In a typical 28-day menstrual cycle, ovulation occurs around day 14. The egg is then fertilized by a sperm, and the resulting embryo implants in the lining of the uterus.
Types of Ovulation:
There are two types of ovulation:
1) Spontaneous ovulation: This is the type of ovulation that typically occurs in women with regular menstrual cycles. It is characterized by the release of an egg from the ovaries in response to hormonal signals from the brain.
2) Induced ovulation: This is the type of ovulation that typically occurs in women with irregular menstrual cycles or who are taking fertility medications. It is characterized by the release of an egg from one of the ovaries in response to medication or other medical treatment.
How can I tell if I am ovulating?
There are several ways to determine if you are ovulating:
1) Charting your basal body temperature (BBT): Your BBT is your lowest body temperature in a 24-hour period. It typically decreases slightly before ovulation and then increases after ovulation.
2) Monitoring your cervical mucus: Cervical mucus changes throughout your menstrual cycle, becoming thinner and more slippery during ovulation.
3) Using an ovulation predictor kit: An ovulation prediction kit is a test you may do at home to check how much luteinizing hormone (LH) is present in your urine. A hormone called LH increases right before ovulation.
What causes PCOS?
The exact cause of PCOS is unknown, but it is thought to be related to a combination of genetic and environmental factors. PCOS often runs in families, so there may be a genetic predisposition for the disorder. Environmental factors such as obesity and insulin resistance are also thought to play a role in the development of PCOS.
What are the symptoms of PCOS?
The most common symptom of PCOS is irregular or absent ovulation, which can lead to infertility. Other symptoms include:
– Hirsutism (excessive hair growth on the face, chest, back, or abdomen)
– Weight gain or obesity
– Insulin resistance
– type 2 diabetes mellitus
– Sleep apnea
How is PCOS diagnosed?
PCOS is typically diagnosed by a combination of a physical examination, blood tests, and an ultrasound of the ovaries. A pelvic exam may be performed to check for signs of excess hair growth or enlarged ovaries. Blood tests can be used to measure hormone levels and check for insulin resistance. An ultrasound can be used to visualize the ovaries and assess the number and size of any follicles present.
There are treatments available for women with PCOS who want to become pregnant. If you are having difficulty ovulating, your doctor may recommend ovulation induction medications such as Clomid or letrozole. If you are not ovulating at all, you may need fertility treatments such as in vitro fertilization (IVF).
PCOS is also associated with an increased risk of gestational diabetes and pregnancy complications. If you are pregnant and have PCOS, your doctor will likely monitor you closely for these risks.
PCOS can be a lifelong condition. There is no cure, but treatments like use of dietary supplement Ovasitol are available to help manage the symptoms and reduce the risk of complications.
If you think you may have PCOS, see your doctor for an evaluation. They can order blood tests to check your hormone levels and confirm the diagnosis. Treatment will focus on managing your individual symptoms and risks.