How does PCOS affect fertility?
Did you know that more than seventy percent of people suffering from PCOS have to deal with fertility issues? Millions of women around the world look up ‘fertility treatment with PCOS’ regularly in hopes that there might have been a scientific breakthrough.
People dealing with PCOS might have to deal with symptoms that can hinder ovulation process due to an imbalance in their hormonal levels, such as:
- high levels of male hormones called androgens
- the formation of small, fluid-filled sacs in the ovaries, that are usually painless
- enlargement of the ovaries
- high amounts of insulin in your blood
Symptoms of PCOS
You might have noticed these signs of PCOS during early adulthood:
- a major symptom is irregular or absent periods
- excessive hair growth in atypical places for women such as face, chest, arms, etc.
- thinning of hair or male-patterned baldness
- oily skin or persistent, severe acne
- darkening of skin folds
- gaining weight easily or difficulty in losing weight
- high levels of insulin in the body
What are some fertility treatments for women with PCOS?
There has been no scientific breakthrough unfortunately, and so there is no permanent cure for PCOS yet. Treatment and management depends on what you want to achieve. How to help fertility with PCOS?
If you don’t already, there are a few things you can do on your own without a doctor’s intervention. Try doing these before you go for fertility treatments for women with PCOS:
- Get a healthy weight and maintain that
- Eat healthy, balanced meals
- Exercise regularly
- Track your periods and cycle, to time intercourse perfectly with your ovulation days.
Your doctor might recommend the following fertility medications for PCOS:
- Clomiphene citrate (Clomid), an ovulatory stimulant works by blocking estrogen feedback to the brain. This is an effective treatment to help women ovulate.
- Letrozole is an aromatase inhibitor used to make people with PCOS start ovulating. It works by releasing follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) to start ovulation.
- Metformin is usually not as effective as clomiphene or letrozole, but it can encourage ovulation in women who want to get pregnant.
- Gonadotropins are injectable hormones that require frequent visits to the doctor to check for any side-effects you may have.
In worst case scenarios, where your body is not responding to medications and treatment, you can discuss possible surgeries with your doctor.
What else can you try?
- Acupuncture - A study suggests acupuncture might be effective in treating PCOS. There’s little to no evidence of it being harmful to anyone, but there are no conclusive results either.
- Essential oils - You might be one of those for whom inhaling essential oils might feel relaxing and calming. These are plant extracts, having strong fragrances. We do not know if aromatherapy is effective. But it is considered safe and has little side effects.
- It has potential when it comes to treating PCOS. Some essential oils can interfere with treatments, so discuss this with your healthcare professional first.
- Herbs and supplements - If you are opting for alternative medications or treatments, always discuss first with your doctor. This is important especially in a country such as India, where you will find “ayurvedic” doctors at every street corner.
Are PCOS and endometriosis related?
If you are struggling with PCOS but are not responding to any medications or treatments, you might have a condition called endometriosis.
In endometriosis, the tissues lining the inner sides of the uterus starts growing outside the uterus. This tissue behaves like the uterine tissues inside the uterus but is much more painful.
About forty percent of women with infertility issues have endometriosis. A few symptoms of endometriosis are:
- Extremely heavy periods
- Pain during intercourse
- pain during bowel movements or urination
A study conducted in 2019 found women who had PCOS and endometriosis together. This overlap has not been studied properly to reach any conclusive results yet.
If nothing else is working for you, your doctor might suggest IVF. IVF, meaning in vitro fertilization begins with injections to stimulate your ovaries into producing eggs. These eggs are then fertilized with the male sperm. And implanted into your uterus to grow and develop.
When to consult a doctor for PCOS affecting fertility?
One you have realized things are not right, go to a doctor at once. Signs of PCOS show up before or during adolescence, so be on the watch out. The sooner you start treatment for PCOS the better it is for your future self.
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