At Wilcox Fertility, we want you to feel educated and empowered when it comes to your fertility. If you suspect you have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), we want to provide you with all of the information so we can work collaboratively to decide how to best manage it.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder that accounts for 25 percent of infertility cases. It impacts roughly 1 in 12 women and one of the most common symptoms is infrequent or prolonged menstrual periods or excess male hormone (androgen) levels. Signs can begin as early as the first menstrual period but it also can arise at any point throughout a woman’s reproductive life. The ovaries may develop numerous small collections of fluid (known as follicles) that fail to regularly release eggs (ovulation).
PCOS creates a chain-like effect that begins with elevated levels of male hormones. These androgens affect the ovaries and prevent them from making the hormones needed for an egg to fully mature. When you have an egg that isn’t mature, it can prevent you from ovulating. When you are unable to ovulate, the hormone needed, progesterone, isn’t produced. Without progesterone, your menstrual cycle becomes irregular or stops completely. As you can see, every aspect affects another and can create issues both with your efforts of conceiving and your overall health.
Signs of PCOS can vary but these are just a few basic symptoms you may experience:
- Acne, oily skin and dandruff
- Depression or anxiety
- Excessive hair growth on your face, chest, etc.
- Immature follicles or cysts on the ovaries (These are described as polycystic ovaries and can be evident with ultrasound)
- Infertility issues
- Infrequent, missed or irregular menstrual periods
- Insulin resistance/diabetic like symptoms (The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists and the American College of Endocrinology recommend screening for diabetes by age 30 in all patients with PCOS)
- Male pattern baldness or thinning hair
- Pelvic pain
- Sleep apnea
- Thick, dark brown or black patches of skin
- Weight gain or obesity or difficulty losing weight
It’s important to note that you may have unexplained symptoms which aren’t listed above so if you suspect you have PCOS and are trying to conceive, we encourage you to schedule a fertility consultation with Dr. Wilcox.
Dr. Wilcox will be able to diagnose you through a pelvic exam to look for abnormalities, order blood tests to check your hormone levels and do an ultrasound to observe the appearance of your ovaries.
If you are officially diagnosed with PCOS, Dr. Wilcox might recommend additional tests to best treat you. Knowing you have PCOS and receiving a diagnosis early can help reduce the risk of long-term complications that can arise from having Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
PCOS can be a difficult diagnosis but we aim to make it manageable and provide every option to build your family. We’re here to help support you and offer resources to best treat Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and provide every option along the way! Please contact us today so we can arrange for you to be seen at a time and date that works best for you!