Until they have difficulty conceiving a child, many women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) are unaware that they have this condition. It interferes with a women’s monthly ovulation cycle, often resulting in infertility.
What Exactly is PCOS?
This disorder takes its name from the cyst-like appearance of a patient’s ovaries. Doctors also refer to it as Stein-Leventhal syndrome. A polycystic ovary usually has many cysts – sacs filled with fluid – less than 1 centimeter in size, according to Cedars-Sinai®. These cysts typically line the surface of an ovary or lie immediately below the surface layer.
While its exact cause eludes researchers, PCOS is shrouded in a complex biochemical environment that stops ovulation, making it difficult to become pregnant. Womenshealth.gov estimates that between 5 and 10 percent of American women of childbearing age suffer from this disorder, which affects girls as young as 11.
In addition to irregular menstrual periods, symptoms include hirsutism, which appears as excessive hair growth on their face, stomach, back, chest, toes or thumbs. Acne, obesity, sleep apnea and male-pattern baldness are not uncommon.
Doctors at fertility clinics in New York City diagnose this condition using blood tests, a physical exam, sonography and a medical history.
There is no cure for polycystic ovarian syndrome. According to the Mayo Clinic, treatment usually concentrates on managing individual issues like infertility, acne, obesity and/or infertility. Patients who visit a New York fertility clinic will most likely receive recommendations for one or a combination of six types of treatment:
- Lifestyle changes: They often center on diet and exercise tips to shed excess weight.
- Regulating menstrual cycles: Birth control pills help control cycles, clear acne and cut male hormone levels. Once a patient stops taking them, however, cycles can again become abnormal.
- Medication for diabetes: Physicians sometimes prescribe a medication normally used for type 2 diabetes. It controls blood glucose levels and reduces the production of testosterone. It also retards abnormal hair growth and has shown additional positive effects.
- Fertility drugs: Several medications are available to stimulate ovulation in PCOS patients and to help them become pregnant. If they fail to produce fertility, another option is in vitro fertilization.
- Surgery: A procedure known as ovarian drilling can boost the likelihood of ovulation. Doctors typically recommend this option only after a patient fails to respond to fertility drugs.
- Medication for excess hair and male hormones: These drugs are called anti-androgens and minimize the effects of male hormones. Creams and treatments such as electrolysis or laser therapy can also remove or reduce the amount of abnormal hair.
To find out more about this disorder, contact Neway, a fertility clinic in New York City. Staff members have extensive experience treating PCOS and have a number of treatment options that offer hope for women with this condition.