Female infertility can be attributed to a number of diseases and disorders. Thanks to modern medicine many of these are now treatable, while others lead to IVF and surrogacy as interventions to achieve motherhood.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a chronic endocrine disorder that commonly affects women during their reproductive years. Women with PCOS may have infrequent or prolonged menstrual periods and, upon diagnosis, display high male hormone levels (hyperandrogenism). In women with PCOS, the ovaries produce follicles, but the ovules do not mature or leave the ovary. These immature follicles can become liquid-filled sacs called ‘’cysts”.
What are the symptoms of Polycystosis?
Generally, symptoms appear around the time of the first menstrual period, during puberty and present more severely in obese females.
- Irregular menstrual periods or no periods at all. Irregular or prolonged menstrual cycles are the most common sign of PCOS.
- High level of androgens. Androgens are male hormones and an excess amount can cause excess facial and body hair (hirsutism), severe acne and male pattern baldness.
- Polycystic ovaries. Ovaries enlarge and fail to function regularly.
- Weight gain
- Difficulty achieving pregnancy. Due to irregular ovulation or failure to ovulate.
What causes PCOS?
The causes of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome are not completely known, but certain factors play a significant role.
- Excess of insulin. Insulin is the hormone that is produced in the pancreas. It allows cells to use sugar, which is the primary energy supply in our body. When our cells become resistant to insulin, blood sugar levels can rise, encouraging the body to produce more insulin. An excess of insulin can trigger an increase in androgen production which can lead to ovulation difficulties.
- Low-grade inflammation. Inflammation spurs white blood cells to produce substances which fight infection. Research has shown that women with PCOS have notable low-grade inflammation which stimulates polycystic ovaries to produce androgens, which can also contribute to heart and blood vessel issues.
- Heredity. Studies suggests that certain genes may be connected to PCOS.
- Excess in androgens. The ovaries produce elevated levels of androgens,resulting in hirsutism and acne.
Treatment for PCOS
It is important to note that there are several types of PCOS and corresponding treatment methods. There is no treatment to fully cure PCOS, but certain symptoms can be managed with targeted methods.
Oral contraceptives regulate a woman’s menstrual cycle. By promoting the shedding of the uterine wall on a regular basis, they reduce the risk of overgrowth or endometrial cancer which is associated with not having regular periods. These medications also control hair growth and acne by suppressing androgens.
Fertility drugs can also be prescribed to stimulate ovulation in women who want to achieve pregnancy.
Other medications, good for treating the symptoms of PCOS, include those which reduce insulin levels and also help women to lose weight.
PCOS in overweight women involve greater risk factors. Weight loss of just 5% can lead to a significant improvement in PCOS. Adequate sleep and exercise also contribute to weight loss and improving overall health.
A PCOS diagnosis does conclusively mean that pregnancy cannot be achieved; the prevalence of infertility is between 70% and 80%. Women with PCOS can get pregnant if they keep a moderate weight, balanced blood sugar levels, and lead a healthy lifestyle, together with medication.
Our IVF and trained medical team are experienced in assessing and designing treatment pathways for women with PCOS. To make your first appointment with a Be Parent consultant please contact us at www.beparentsurrogacy.com.