Infertility in PCOS

woman of wilendorfPCOS is a hormonal imbalance in women that is thought to be one of the leading causes of female infertility. Polycystic ovary syndrome causes more than 75% of cases of anovulatory infertility.

WOMEN WITH POLYCYSTIC OVARIES AND FERTILITY PROBLEMS:

  1. Do not release an egg (ovulate) regularly
  2. Have ovaries that contain many small cystic structures, about 2-9 mm in diameter

HOW DOES NORMAL OVULATION WORK?

In a normal menstrual cycle with ovulation, a mature follicle – which is also a cystic structure – develops. The size of a mature follicle that is ready to ovulate is about 18 to 28mm in diameter.

  • About 14 days after ovulation the woman would be expected to get a period if she is not pregnant
  • The basic difference between polycystic and normal ovaries is that although the polycystic ovaries contain many small antral follicles with eggs in them, the follicles do not develop and mature properly – so there is no ovulation.
  • Since women with polycystic ovaries do not ovulate regularly, they do not get regular menstrual periods

WHAT ARE THE CHANCES OF HAVING PCOS?

It is estimated that polycystic ovarian syndrome affects about 8-10% of women of reproductive age. It is very common.

WHAT IS THE INFERTILITY RATE WITH PCOS?

The infertility rate with polycystic ovaries is very high. These women usually will have difficulty getting pregnant – and usually require treatment to improve chances for pregnancy.

Some women with polycystic ovary syndrome will ovulate (release a mature egg) occasionally – others do not ever ovulate. In order to conceive, sperm must find and fertilize a mature egg – so we need to ovulate.

CAN I CONCEIVE WITH PCOS?

The good news is that the chance of getting pregnant with polycystic ovarian syndrome using fertility treatments is very good. The great majority of women with polycystic ovarian syndrome will be able to have a baby with fertility treatment.

For young women under age 35 with polycystic ovaries, the real question is more about which treatment will be effective – and not so much whether any treatment can ever work.

As far as the chances for pregnancy with PCOS – pregnancy statistics are difficult to give without knowing the details of the individual case.

TREATMENTS FOR POLYCYSTIC OVARIES AND INFERTILITY

Women with polycystic ovary syndrome usually need induction of ovulation: the use of medication to stimulate development of one or more mature follicles (where eggs develop) in the ovaries of women who have anovulation and infertility. These women do not regularly develop mature follicles without help from ovulation enhancing drugs, to get pregnant.

Source: Advanced Fertility Centre of Chicago

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