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How PCOS Can Affect Your Fertility

How PCOS Can Affect Your Fertility

Are you experiencing mysterious symptoms like weight gain, hair thinning, irregular periods, and thick, dark spots on your skin? These are all signs of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a health problem between 5 and 13% of women in their childbearing years experience.

One of the most concerning things about PCOS for women is that it also affects your fertility, but why, and can anything be done about it?

Dr. Kevin Hooker offers a wide range of women’s services at Lake Havasu OB/GYN Care, including diagnosing and treating PCOS — so you can have a markedly better chance of becoming pregnant if you want to be a mom. He talks with you about the symptoms of PCOS, which are varied and can look like other conditions, answers all your questions, and creates an individualized treatment plan for you to pursue motherhood. 

The facts surrounding PCOS

PCOS stems from a reproductive hormone imbalance, which then leads to problems with the ovaries. These include eggs that don’t develop correctly or are not released. 

Because of this, it’s easy to see why PCOS can slash the likelihood that you’ll conceive. In addition to fertility issues, cysts can also develop in your ovaries. 

Obesity is another significant risk factor for PCOS, as is having high insulin levels and a family history of diabetes. You're more likely to be diagnosed if your mother, sister, or aunt has had PCOS. Higher than normal levels of androgens are also associated with PCOS. These are hormones that both men and women produce, but women make much less of them typically.

Unfortunately, having PCOS also puts you at greater risk for other problematic health conditions, such as:

Depression and anxiety are also linked to PCOS, which is understandable, considering that it can be tricky to diagnose and is associated with other illnesses and fertility problems. 

The good news: PCOS is treatable

Fortunately, there’s hope if you’re diagnosed with PCOS, so even if it has impacted your ability to get pregnant, Dr. Hooker has effective treatments that can help.

Dr. Hooker may prescribe Clomid, a medication that can help you ovulate, to address fertility problems caused by PCOS. Gonadotropins, injectable hormones, offer another treatment option to restore ovulation. 

Letrozole, a treatment usually used for breast cancer patients, can also help those with PCOS by blocking estrogen production and causing your body to release more follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), which encourages ovulation. 

Invitro fertilization is another option — a type of assisted reproductive technology (ART) that fertilizes your egg with your partner’s sperm in a lab. We then return the fertilized egg to your uterus for implantation. IVF allows you a higher chance of pregnancy but reduces the chances of having a pregnancy with multiple babies, compared to Clomid treatment. 

If these treatments are unsuccessful, Dr. Hooker may recommend a surgical procedure that alleviates the PCOS problem of thickening ovaries. During an ovarian drilling procedure, Dr. Hooker makes small holes in the surfaces of your ovaries using a heated fine needle and a laser. Ovulation is typically restored for 6-8 months after this procedure, giving you a window to get pregnant.

If excess weight is a problem, dropping it by eating healthy foods and getting more physical activity is something you can do to help restore your fertility. Behavioral therapy can help with the emotional fallout of PCOS-related fertility problems.

Dr. Hooker has helped many patients discouraged by PCOS-related fertility problems. Contact our office at 928-683-1667 to set up a consultation to discuss PCOS symptoms and treatments, or request an appointment online through our website. 

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