Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal condition commonly found in women who are at a reproductive age. It has a number of risk factors that could increase your likelihood of developing the disorder, such as:
- Excess androgens. If the ovaries produce androgens in excess, it could lead to acne and hirsutism, or male-pattern hair growth. Excess androgens could also cause male-pattern baldness. This could also cause difficulty with ovulation, or the release of eggs.
- Excess insulin. Insulin made in excess by the pancreas could increase the production of androgens, which could make ovulation harder.
- Low-grade inflammation. This phenomenon occurs when white blood cells in the body produce substances made to fight infection. Studies have shown that people with PCOS have a form of low-grade inflammation that cause polycystic ovaries to produce androgens, which can ultimately cause heart and blood vessel problems.
- Heredity. Certain genes could be connected to PCOS, studies have shown.
While signs of PCOS often show up around puberty, they may also appear during one’s first menstrual cycle. However, the majority of people who have PCOS don’t even realize they have it. And fewer than 25% of individuals who have the condition have been diagnosed with it, generally because most physicians tend to conceptualize the symptoms on an individual basis as opposed to a collective one; the latter would allow healthcare providers to come to a diagnosis of PCOS. Interestingly enough, most women are actually never given a concrete diagnosis of PCOS until they have difficulty getting pregnant and seek assistance from a healthcare professional.
This begs the question, is it possible to get pregnant if one has PCOS? Absolutely.
If you have PCOS, your doctor may suggest a medication to help you ovulate, such as:
- Clomid (clomiphene): an anti-estrogen medication that’s taken orally at the first part of a menstrual cycle.
- Femara (letrozole): a breast cancer treatment that could stimulate the ovaries.
- Gonadotropins: hormones that are administered via injection.
- Glucophage, Fotramet, etc (metformin): types of oral medications generally given to individuals with type 2 diabetes in an effort to improve insulin resistance and lower insulin levels. If you’re having trouble getting pregnant with Clomid, your doctor may recommend adding metformin to the mix.
However, individuals with PCOS also have riskier pregnancies. The PCOS Awareness Association says that in individuals who are pregnant and have PCOS there’s a higher chance of:
- Miscarriages during early pregnancies
- C-section deliveries
- Premature births
- Preeclampsia, which is characterized by bodily swelling and a sudden spike in blood pressure after the 20th week of pregnancy
- Gestational diabetes (aka diabetes that develops during pregnancy), which can lead to having large babies
The PCOS Awareness Association says that it’s important to monitor your blood-glucose levels during your pregnancy.
The Ezra abdominal, torso, and full-body MRIs may be able to find PCOS in your body. If you’d like to learn more about our pricing plans, you may do so here.