PCOS and Infertility


It is a well known fact that PCOS and infertility go hand in hand. PCOS, a major cause of infertility in women, is related to the absence of ovulation (anovulatory infertility). The fact is that most women don't find out they have PCOS until they want to have a baby. After possibly trying for a year or more without success, a woman will visit her doctor who confirms the problem. However, many of the symptoms and characteristics of PCOS are present in a young girl even before she begins menstruation - and the impact of this condition far extends what we have thought to date. This information alone has caused some researchers to question whether PCOS is a genetic or hereditary issue.

Difficult to Define

The exact definition for PCOS (other than the acronym) remains in debate. It encompasses myriad conditions and symptoms, so pigeon-holing it to one succinct definition is tricky. There are three main aspects or features of PCOS, any two of which can be offer a confirmed diagnosis.

· Chronic absence of ovulation

· High levels of androgens

· Cysts on one or both ovaries

The reality is that many women who have been diagnosed with PCOS have symptoms by no cysts on their ovaries and, conversely, others have cysts on their ovaries by no symptoms.

Genetic Connection

Researchers and health care providers alike are stymied when it comes to the causes of PCOS. They have determined that the symptoms do tend to run in families and it is probably caused, in part, by a mutation of one or more genes. However, since the condition is ever-changing, it is likely that gene mutation is not the only reason a woman has PCOS. It is more likely a combination of factors, including genes and environmental aspects that contribute to the syndrome. There are also suggestions that PCOS may occur before birth - when a female infant still in the womb.

Contributors to Infertility

One of the major factors involved in PCOS and infertility is the fact that a woman with the syndrome will usually have fewer than nine menstrual cycles per year. PCOS causes heavier than normal bleeding during menses because the ovaries fail to produce hormones that keep the menstrual cycle regular. The irregularity of menses disrupts ovulation, which means conception will be difficult at best.

Other contributors to infertility in women with PCOS are the twin epidemics of obesity and inactivity. PCOS sufferers tend to share the same cluster of health issues, from obesity and heart disease to breast, uterine and endometrial cancers, and they have a seven to ten times higher risk for Type 2 Diabetes.

Hard to Pidgeon-hole

Still, with all of the diagnostic tools available, PCOS is often misdiagnosed, probably due to the fact that the symptoms vary so extensively. The fact is that eight out of ten women with PCOS are insulin resistant. This means they have higher-than-normal insulin levels that can affect the ovaries by an increase of male hormones. The end result is sometimes catastrophic: ovulation cessation, large weight gain, acne, skin tags, hirusitis, decreased sex drive, high cholesterol levels, exhaustion, low mental alertness, depression, anxiety, breathing problems (sleep apnea) and thyroid complications.

What's the Answer?

So, what's the answer to infertility caused by PCOS? There is no single solution. It is necessary to use a multi-pronged approach incorporating nutriceuticals (disease specific vitamins, minerals, herbs and supplements), a nutritionally sound weight loss program, a realistic exercise program, and a support system that can help change lifestyle habits for the best.

Without care, the domino effect kicks in. Insulin resistance leads to obesity that causes an increase in insulin, which, in the case of PCOS, causes an overproduction of testosterone, the male hormone. The increase of testosterone prevents the ovaries from releasing an egg and the net result is infertility.

There are myriad issues surround PCOS and the common result of infertility. This section has many articles that will help you learn more about the syndrome, its effects and possible treatments.

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