PCOS and Infertility
PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) is one of the leading causes of infertility in women. Approximately five to ten percent of women of childbearing age have PCOS. Most women with PCOS don’t even know that they have it. In fact, less than twenty-five percent of women with PCOS have actually been diagnosed. Most women do not get a diagnosis until they begin trying to get pregnant. Some of the symptoms of PCOS may be overlooked until a woman starts trying to conceive a baby.
What is PCOS?
PCOS, or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, is a medical condition that affects women’s menstrual cycles, fertility, hormone levels, and physical appearance. Women with PCOS produce high levels of insulin. Researchers believe that excessive insulin production causes their bodies to respond by producing high levels of male hormones or androgens.
During the first half of a normal menstrual cycle, several follicles will develop. Each follicle contains an egg. As the menstrual cycle continues, only one follicle will remain. This follicle will produce the egg during ovulation. Once the egg has matured, LH levels will surge causing the egg to burst from the follicle. This is when ovulation occurs.
Excess male hormones produced with PCOS affect the production of female hormones necessary for ovulation. A woman with PCOS does not produce enough hormones to cause any of the follicles to mature. They may grow and collect fluid but none become large enough for ovulation. Some of these follicles may develop into cysts. Because ovulation does not occur, progesterone is not produced. Progesterone is what causes the lining of the uterus to thicken. A woman’s cycle will be irregular or absent without progesterone.
Symptoms of PCOS
- Irregular or infrequent menstrual cycles
- Increased hair growth on face, back or chest
- Multiple cysts on the ovaries
- Thinning hair
- Elevated insulin levels or Type II Diabetes
- PMS or pelvic pain
PCOS and Ovulation Prediction
Because hormone levels are affected with PCOS, predicting ovulation can be difficult. Women with PCOS usually have an anovulatory BBT chart. If they do ovulate, it may be very difficult to interpret their BBT chart. PCOS may also affect the results of ovulation prediction kits. Ovulation prediction kits work by detecting LH surges. Some women with PCOS have elevated LH hormones making it difficult to use an ovulation prediction kit. The Clear Plan Fertility monitor also informs customers that PCOS adversely affects the performance of the monitor.