This month we want to talk about polycystic ovary syndrome because it’s also PCOS Awareness month. This common endocrine and reproductive disorder involves high levels of male hormones (androgens) in women, causing the ovaries to become enlarged and small cysts to form on the outer edges. It is also THE single most common cause of infertility when it comes to younger women and impacts 1 in every 10 women.
When it comes to ovulation, not having a regular menstrual cycle is a pretty good sign, but also those with normal cycles may also have difficulty ovulating. PCOS is a hyperandrogenic state that leads to a variety of issues including:
-Anovulation: An average menstrual cycle is every 28 days. PCOS often obscures that cycle and makes it longer, shorter or erratic. It’s important for those who suspect PCOS to investigate if ovulation is taking place. Supplements such as Myo-inositol have shown some effectiveness in normalizing ovarian function. It’s always recommended to work with a physician when adding medication or supplements to your diet.
-Acne: This stems from high levels of male hormones, like testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT) making your sebaceous glands create excessive amounts that clog your pores.
-Hirsutism: Excessive male-pattern hair growth because of androgens that are dark and thick on your face, chest and back usually because of your hereditary makeup.
-Insulin resistance: If you have PCOS, your cells resist the effects of normal insulin levels so more of it is released just to keep your blood sugar levels normal, making your ovaries produce excess testosterone.
Checking for Ovulation
Should your ovaries fail to release an egg you will struggle with infertility, making it harder to achieve pregnancy. There are ways to find out if your ovaries are creating eggs when you have a menstrual cycle that is irregular:
-Determining your basal body temperature (BBT) – if you have ovulated, your basal body temperature goes up. So if it doesn’t go up between your first period day and the first day of your following period, you may not have ovulated.
-Testing your urine for luteinizing hormone (LH) – this is done in the middle of your cycle to see if you have had a surge in your LH. This is easily determined with a one-step over-the-counter ovulation predictor kit. If the color changes within 24 to 40 hours it means you have ovulated.
-Undergoing a transvaginal ultrasound: this test is done in the middle of your menstrual cycle and shows whether a dominant follicle (ovarian cyst with an egg inside) is there.
-Determining your progesterone level: taking a blood test for increased progesterone levels.
-Testing your ovarian reserves to see if your eggs can result in pregnancy: A Basal FSH, estradiol blood test, Clomiphene citrate challenge test (CCCT) to find out if the ovaries aren’t functioning or a Basal antral follicle (BAF) count ultrasound to see the small follicles that can be stimulated.
Treating an ovulation disorder from PCOS may involve any of the following:
-Losing weight to better regulate your menstrual cycle. A healthy, balanced diet that is high in fiber, low in sugar and contains essential fatty acids. A 10% loss in body mass is enough to see the maximum results from weight loss when PCOS induced infertility is the culprit.
-Adding supplements that positively impact ovulation.
-Consultation a fertility physician or specialist who prescribes fertility medication via a pill or shot to stimulate your ovaries so they can release eggs.
-Having intrauterine insemination (IUI) done where sperm is placed into your uterus via an injection. or In Vitro Fertilization to maximize the chances of conceiving.
Scheduling a Consultation
Know that you are not alone on your fertility journey, there are many women who also experience PCOS and are looking for answers. Our Utah Fertility Center team and board-certified Reproductive Endocrinologists have been helping women find answers to their fertility issues and helping them improve their reproductive health and overall health along the way. Please call us at a location nearest if you have questions or want to schedule a consultation. You can also learn more about PCOS with these resources.
For more information
Visit the PCOS Awareness Association at https://pcosaa.org
Take the PCOS QUIZ:
Check Out PCOS Events