There are many conditions that can cause infertility in women; a very common cause of female infertility is polycystic ovarian syndrome or PCOS. This condition can have significant impacts on the chances for a woman to get pregnant and start a family, as well as a woman's general health. Once a woman is diagnosed with this condition they often wonder how polycystic ovarian syndrome affects their body and their family life.
PCOS affects about 5 to 10 percent of reproductive-age women regardless of their ethnicity. It can occur at almost any point of a woman's life beginning in her adolescence to when she first tries to get pregnant. The precise cause of PCOS is unknown. There are many factors that could contribute to the condition such as environmental aspects, heredity, genetic mutations, a failure in the body's insulin system, exposure to male
hormones, and a disruption in the level of hormones. For some women the symptoms of PCOS are obvious while others may not even know they have the condition until they try to get pregnant and realize they are unable to.
PCOS can only be diagnosed by a medical doctor. There are many signs and symptoms of polycystic ovarian syndrome, some being more noticeable than others. Some of the most evident symptoms include disruptions in the menstrual cycle, while a common sign of PCOS is the presence of multiple small cysts in the ovaries. The disruptions of the menstrual cycle include delays of the menstrual cycle, fewer than average menstrual cycles, irregular menstrual cycles, and no menstrual cycles for time frames of up to several months. Some of the less obvious signs of PCOS are obesity, weight gain, dandruff, skin discolorations, elevated blood pressure, elevated cholesterol levels, higher than normal levels of androgens (male hormones), excess body hair, and chronic acne that continually worsens. Many of the less notable symptoms can also be caused by conditions other than PCOS; therefore a medical doctor should always be consulted when diagnosing PCOS.
Many health problems are associated with PCOS. Obesity, for example, is commonly coupled with PCOS; about 60 percent of all women that are diagnosed with PCOS are obese. Excessive weight can lead to many complications such as heart problems, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Another major concern with PCOS is the increased chance of cancer in the uterus and infertility. Each case of PCOS is different. Not all women will have the same problems caused by this condition, but almost all women will have some abnormality related to their menstrual cycle.
A doctor may try many different treatments depending on what stage a woman is in her life, as well whether a woman wishes to get pregnant. Often times, various lifestyle modifications and/or medications are used to target specific problems based on each case of PCOS. Being diagnosed with PCOS can cause a great deal of stress for the patient and their family. Physicians and families should try their best to work together and create a support network so a person does not have to face the condition alone. For many
women the possibility of not having children is heartbreaking, but hope should not be given up as there are excellent treatment options for PCOS, available from a doctor, that can result in a successful and fulfilling family life.