Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a health condition that affects the menstrual cycle and ability to have children. Around 1 out of every 15 women of childbearing age has PCOS, which is approximately 5 million women in the U.S.
Experts do not fully understand the cause of PCOS, but they believe genetics and other factors play a role. The main problem with this condition is hormonal imbalance, and the ovaries tend to produce excess androgens. This alters egg development, release, and ovulation.
Women with PCOS may not have all the hormones necessary for the egg to fully develop. Because of excess androgens, ovulation may not occur. The follicles often accumulate fluid, which remain as cysts.
Patients with PCOS must meet 2 of 3 criteria:
Once PCOS is diagnosed, treatment is aimed at correcting the hormone imbalance so the woman can become pregnant, as well as decreasing the risk for diabetes and heart disease. Treatment involves lifestyle modifications such as diet and exercise. To regulate the menstrual cycle, most women need to lose at least 10 percent of total body weight.
Birth control – Oral contraceptives are used to reduce androgens, control menstrual cycles, and clear acne. Obviously this is not a great treatment if the issue being treated is infertility due to PCOS.
Medications that can help with PCOS effects include:
The vast majority of women are able to achieve a successful pregnancy with the modern treatment options available.