If you’re having trouble getting pregnant, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) could be the cause of your infertility. If that’s the case, you’re not alone in your sadness and frustration. As many as 5 million women of childbearing age in the U.S. also have this condition.
The good news is that in many cases, infertility from PCOS is treatable—and it could still be possible for you to conceive and deliver a healthy child. Southern California Reproductive Center (SCRC) has over 20 years of experience treating PCOS-related infertility, helping conception dreams come true for countless families worldwide.
What Is PCOS and What Causes It?
PCOS is a condition of hormonal imbalance. Men and women naturally have estrogen and androgen hormones in their bodies. Women usually have higher levels of estrogen and men typically have higher levels of androgens. Women with PCOS typically have higher levels of androgens.
The imbalance of hormones can interfere with follicular growth and ovulation, making menstrual cycles irregular and unpredictable. If the androgen levels are particularly elevated, there can also be coarse hair growth, male pattern balding or cystic acne apparent. Because disordered ovulation can lead to unopposed estrogen exposure, endometrial hyperplasia, or overgrowth of the uterine lining, can result. If untreated this can progress to endometrial cancer.
PCOS is a complex syndrome and has metabolic consequences as well including insulin resistance which can progress to diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease and sleep apnea. In some cases, PCOS is also associated with mental health disorders such as anxiety or depression.
To learn more, watch SCRC’s Dr. Carolyn Alexander discuss the conditions associated with PCOS in this expert-led webinar.
How Does SCRC Treat PCOS-Caused Infertility?
The highest quality care for our patients diagnosed with PCOS starts with our team. Our physicians are committed to understanding you, your conditions, and your family-building goals. Are you interested in getting pregnant soon, or is your main concern managing your symptoms?
Treatment will be different depending on your goals. If your intention is to start a family, we have a number of treatment options available. We start with evaluating you and your unique set of symptoms. We then recommend the treatment that’s best for you.
- Medication – The first option for treatment is typically medication to stimulate ovulation. In many cases, this, along with coaching about intercourse timing, is enough for you to conceive. Since these treatments change your hormones, we monitor you carefully for any complications.
- Medication and intrauterine insemination (IUI) – Sometimes to increase success rates, we inject concentrated sperm from your partner or a donor directly into your uterus. The procedure is quick and painless and puts the embryo in the very best possible position for growth.
- IVF – In vitro fertilization (IVF) is another option. It is a process, and it also uses medication to stimulate ovulation. We harvest your eggs under light sedation, mix them with your partner’s or a donor’s sperm and culture them in our lab. We then implant the most viable embryo in your uterus to create a pregnancy. This procedure enables us to closely manage the number of embryos we implant.
- Lifestyle changes – Often times lifestyle changes can make a difference in fertility for women with PCOS. This is perhaps the most difficult treatment to talk about, and often the most difficult to put in place. If you are overweight or obese, changing your diet and activity habits to lose even 10% of your body weight can pay huge dividends in fertility. Talk to your fertility specialist about weight loss strategies that work best if you have PCOS.
Symptoms of PCOS & Diagnosis
The following are the most common symptoms of PCOS. If you are experiencing some (or all) of these, consult your doctor to get a professional assessment.
- Missed, irregular, or light periods
- Coarse body hair on the face, chest, stomach, and back
- Abdominal weight gain
- Skin conditions such as acne or excess oil
- Thinning hair
- Thick, dark skin patches
- Depression and anxiety
Every patient is different, but diagnosis will probably include some (or all) of the steps below to determine conclusively whether you have PCOS:
- Medical history evaluation (menstrual period patterns, weight changes, and other information)
- A pelvic exam that checks your reproductive organs inside and out
- An ultrasound (sonogram) to evaluate the ovaries for PCO morphology
- A blood test to check for unusual hormonal and sugar levels in your blood
Dr. Shahin Ghadir did his thesis on PCOS when he was a fellow at Cedar Sinai at UCLA. Hear more about the symptoms of PCOS and how it’s officially diagnosed.
Choose SCRC for Personalized, Compassionate Treatment
It’s important to work with a team of expert, compassionate fertility specialists to support you in your journey toward conception. We understand that your journey to this point may have been disappointing and frustrating, but there is hope.
From diagnosis to delivery, our doctors strive to forge a strong relationship with you—to listen to your dreams of starting or growing your family and support you in achieving them. We have designed our practice to offer the best and latest in science-based, compassionate care.
- Our physicians strive to build a relationship with you so your time with us is as comfortable and successful as possible. They are fertility specialists who have decades of training and experience, dedicating their lives and careers to treating infertility. They continue to study, involve themselves in the latest research, teach the next generation of fertility physicians and publish on fertility topics.
- SCRC brings you the most advanced fertility techniques to give you the greatest possibility of conceiving. We also participate in pharmaceutical clinical studies to contribute to the latest breakthroughs in fertility science.
- Our SCRC Advanced Technologies Lab (ART) provides you with the latest biomedical technology, testing, medication, and treatments. The ART lab is conveniently on-site and is run by our trained, experienced laboratory team.
For more than 20 years, we have had the joy of celebrating with many PCOS patients when their dreams of a family finally come true. Schedule a consultation with one of our fertility specialists today to learn more about your PCOS treatment options whether or not you’re looking to start your family.