PCOS Awareness Month is a federally designated month that aims to increase awareness around Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). PCOS is one of the most common ovulatory disorders, accounting for 25 percent of infertility cases and can potentially create other medical issues such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease as well as cancer.
PCOS is a health problem that affects 1 in 10 women so taking this opportunity to help educate girls, women and the public about this condition can not only help the future health of so many but it can also assist in the care of those already diagnosed. The more you know about what your options are, the more you’ll be able to advocate for yourself!
PCOS is typically caused by an imbalance of hormones. The hormonal imbalance creates problems in your ovaries. Girls and women who have PCOS tend to have an elevated level of male hormones, which creates a chain effect involving your entire menstrual cycle.
Having a hormonal imbalance means your ovaries are not able to make the hormones needed for an egg to fully mature. That can prevent you from ovulating. If you’re not ovulating, you aren’t producing the amount of progesterone you need. Without progesterone, your menstrual cycle can become irregular or stop completely. If you’retrying to conceive with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, this “PCOS Chain Reaction” can make your efforts rather difficult!
The signs and symptoms of PCOS can vary amongst individuals. The most common signs include irregular or infrequent periods and polycystic ovaries. Making matters more complicated is in some cases, some girls and women have no discernible signs of the condition.
Below are the list of the most basic and common symptoms (in alphabetical order):
While you may not have every single symptom listed above, if some of the above resonate with you or if you have any concerns whatsoever, you should consult with a Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE). He or she should be able to diagnose you through an ultrasound, a pelvic exam, blood tests and a review of your medical history. Being aware of PCOS and receiving treatment early can greatly help in getting the condition under control.
If you are diagnosed with PCOS and are trying to build your family, you have several family building options. Depending on your particular situation, your doctor may recommend first trying an oral medication called Clomid and timed cycles, or they may suggest employing Assisted Reproductive Technology like intrauterine insemination [IUI] or in vitro fertilization (IVF). Most likely, there would be attempts taken first before the subject of surrogacy would be explored.
In certain cases, since some experience insulin resistance and diabetic like complications due to their PCOS, they are more likely to experience gestational diabetes. They also have a higher chance of experiencing preeclampsia. Both mean that they might be at a higher risk of giving birth prematurely and/or needing a C-Section. While that will most likely not prevent you from carrying your own child, you should feel comfortable discussing this with your doctor. Only you and your physician can truly decide what’s the best, safest and healthiest plan to expand your family.
If you do find yourself in need of a surrogate, please register to learn more. If you would like more clarity on ConceiveAbilities' surrogacy program and process please visit our surrogacy process page on our website.
For now, we hope you will take some time this month and become familiar with several resources around PCOS. Below are several groups that can help educate you about this condition and we encourage you to help spread the word as you never know who you’ll be helping or educating!
And as always, please feel free to contact us should you have any questions!
All Things Conceivable is a blog dedicated to sharing the knowledge and expert opinions of the dedicated team at ConceiveAbilities, a Chicago-based egg donation and surrogacy agency.