PCOs and infertility – what to do?


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Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder that causes ovaries to get enlarged and small cysts develop on the outer edges. The cause or causes of PCOS might be a combination of environmental, lifestyle or genetic factors. We got experts on board to help understand this better.

Understanding PCOS

Dr Vandana HegdeOvary

PCOS is a common condition associated with an imbalance in female sexual hormones, which may lead to many symptoms like irregular menstrual periods, excessive hair on the face, etc. “A diagnosis of PCOS is almost always associated with an assumption that getting pregnant will be a challenge. PCOS is one of the main causes of infertility,” Dr Vandana Hegde says, “In fact, 50 per cent of women who have difficulty in conceiving are found to have PCOS.” The signs and symptoms of PCOS usually show up in late adolescence or early adulthood, she points out. They can include:

  • Excess hair growth on the face or other places which is usually typical to males.
  • Thinning hair on the scalp.
  • Oily skin or severe acne.
  • Skin tags on the neck or armpits.
  • Patches of thick, darkened skin, particularly on the neck, groin, or underneath the breasts.
  • Weight gain or difficulty losing weight.
  • High levels of insulin in blood.

PCOS And Infertility

Dr Richa Jagtap (Fellowship Reproductive Medicine, Singapore), Clinical Director, NOVA IVF Fertility , ChemburOvary

For infertility caused by PCOS, treatment involves correcting any ovulation issues and tackling metabolic problems, such as insulin resistance. “There are treatments to help ovulate and conceive,” Dr Richa Jagtap, Clinical Director, NOVA IVF Fertility, Chembur, Mumbai adds, “It can also be used to help regulate menstrual cycles and provide protection from endometriosis in women with irregular periods associated with PCOS.” Maintaining a healthy weight can help regulate menstruation and keep blood glucose levels under control. “A healthy, balanced diet and regular exercise are vital,” she tells.

Having PCOS does not mean you can’t get pregnant. “PCOS is one of the most common but treatable causes of infertility in women. In women with PCOS, the hormonal imbalance interferes with the growth and release of eggs from ovaries (ovulation). So, the key to successful conception is to start treatment at the earliest,” Dr Jagtap advices. 


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Treatment For PCOS

Currently is not cure for PCOS, but it can be well-managed. Treating PCOS will differ from person to person but mainly consists of ovarian stimulation drugs, insulin sensitising drugs or surgery. Most women with PCOS who are treated with a short course of drugs are able to get pregnant. There is no standard treatment plan that can work for every woman with PCOS who is planning a pregnancy.

The fertility specialist will consider various factors before deciding on a treatment plan. These factors include age, symptoms, cause of infertility, personal desire to keep trying other routes of conception and last but not the least, cost of treatment. The doctors may prescribe different treatments like In Vitio Fertilisation (IVF) depending on the particular case. Speak to your doctor to understand if IVF is the best option for you.