September Is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Month
Because its symptoms so often mirror normal changes to a woman’s body or other conditions, such as premenstrual syndrome (PMS), polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) can go undiagnosed for years.
Due to this lack of diagnosis, many women are not informed that they have the condition until they struggle to conceive or maintain a healthy pregnancy through delivery.
Every case of PCOS is different, so not all women with PCOS will be unable to conceive naturally or face a difficult pregnancy. However, for others, fertility treatment may be required.
What are the symptoms of PCOS?
As noted above, PCOS can often mirror PMS symptoms or other typical changes to a woman’s body. Symptoms of PCOS include acne, as well as unwanted hair growth on the face, back, chest, fingers, toes, and stomach. Conversely, some women can experience thinning hair on their head, problems sleeping, fatigue, pelvic pain, irregular periods, irritability and weight gain.
Often, changes in hair growth and/or hair loss can be the key factors that cause women to seek medical care, since they can be used to dealing with unpleasant PMS-like symptoms, even if they change from mild to severe.
Please note: You should contact your provider if your PMS symptoms become severe. Severe PMS is not normal and can be indicative of an underlying condition.
Infertility is the second-leading symptom to cause women to seek medical care. They likely did not expect to experience difficulty conceiving, but they now recognize they are not doing so on their own. Another core symptom of PCOS is the ability to conceive naturally, then struggling to maintain a healthy pregnancy because of gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, premature birth or even miscarriage.
How does fertility treatment control PCOS?
Your provider may prescribe birth control pills to better regulate the hormones that are affected by PCOS, which can, in turn, help to regulate your period. Therapy using progestin (another hormone) can also be used to regulate your period without preventing pregnancy, and it can be administered in pill form or through an intrauterine device (IUD).
To assist with ovulation, your doctor may also recommend medications like Clomid or gonadotropins, which are hormones. Depending on your diagnosis, family planning goals and personal reactions to medication, a treatment plan can be tailored specifically to your needs.