Thursday, October 5, 2017

Fertility and PCOS: When PCOS can be a POS

PCOS, or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, is a total bitch. Ok, I'm tired and lashing out but really PCOS can be a POS (or piece of sh!t) when it comes to fertility. What exactly is PCOS? It is a relatively common hormonal imbalance that brews trouble with the ovaries (don't remember the ovaries do? Here is a refresher), where eggs may not develop or release as they should. The wonky ovaries then cause you to miss or have irregular periods. And contrary to the name, you may not actually have cysts on your ovaries and still have PCOS. Often women will have too much androgen, which is a male hormone that women normally only produce a small amount.

About 5 to 10% of women of reproductive age have PCOS, and it is the most common cause of infertility in women. A lot of women don't even know they have PCOS until they are trying to get pregnant! The symptoms of PCOS can include:

  • whacky periods - either missing them or getting them too often
  • being especially hairy on your face and chin
  • acne
  • thinning hair - think male pattern baldness
  • weight gain or trouble losing weight
  • darker skin along the neck , groin, and under your breasts
  • fatigue and trouble sleeping
  • skin tags the armpit or neck area. 
Having one of these symptoms alone isn't going to mean that you have PCOS - I have acne and plenty of skin tags. And god knows I'm tired (I think I already mentioned that).  But if you have several of these symptoms, particularly those that are associated with male hormones (acne, hairiness, thinning hair) it might be a good idea to check in with your lady parts doctor. 

PCOS can be treated, but much of it depends on your symptoms. Some will be encouraged to lose weight to increase ovulation function, while others will be put on medication to stimulate ovulation. If PCOS is treated correctly, you can get pregnant once you start ovulating. 

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