September marks Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) Awareness Month, shedding light on a condition that affects 12-21% of women of reproductive age. PCOS is a hormonal disorder that can pose challenges for those trying to conceive. At Concept Fertility, we're committed to providing you with the knowledge and support you need throughout your fertility journey. In this article, we'll explore what PCOS is, how it can be diagnosed, and the fertility treatment options available for those dealing with this condition.

What is PCOS?

PCOS, or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, is a complex hormonal condition characterised by polycystic ovaries (as diagnosed via ultrasound) and hormone imbalances. Symptoms can include irregular periods, abnormal hair growth, acne, and weight gain. The name "polycystic" can be misleading, as it refers to the presence of small, immature follicles on the ovaries that contain many eggs. Instead of maturing and releasing an egg, these follicles can disrupt the menstrual cycle, leading to infertility.

Factors influencing PCOS onset include genetics, insulin resistance, and inflammation. Women with PCOS often have higher levels of androgens (male hormones) and insulin resistance, which can hinder ovulation.

How Do I Test for PCOS?

Testing for PCOS involves various methods:

Ultrasound: An ultrasound scan can reveal the presence of multiple small follicles on the ovaries.

Blood Tests: Hormone irregularities, including elevated levels of testosterone and lutenising hormone (LH), are common in PCOS. These levels can fluctuate and are often assessed on day 2 of the menstrual cycle. Blood tests may also show changes in blood glucose and insulin levels, indicating insulin resistance.

What Are the Fertility Treatment Options for PCOS?

Fertility treatments for PCOS aim to address hormonal imbalances and promote ovulation. These include:

1. Weight Loss: Weight management is crucial, particularly for obese women with PCOS. It helps balance hormones and restore regular periods. Despite the challenges posed by higher testosterone levels, diet and exercise can have a significant impact.

2. Insulin Sensitisers: Medications like Metformin can help reduce insulin resistance, aiding in weight loss and improving fertility.

3. Ovulation Induction Drugs: Clomiphene (Clomid) can stimulate the ovaries to promote ovulation. If it proves ineffective, injectable follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) drugs may be considered. Close monitoring is essential to prevent side effects and multiple pregnancies.

4. IVF Treatment: In some cases, in vitro fertilisation (IVF) may be necessary, although it's not always the first line of treatment.

What's Next?

If you suspect you have PCOS and have been trying to conceive for over 12 months without success, we encourage you to make an appointment with one of our specialists. To do so please call us on 08 9382 2388 or contact us via our website.

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