PCOS and Fertility

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is the single most common cause of infertility for women. Five million women in the US alone are impacted by this endocrine disorder, yet many women don’t realize they are living with it.

At Boston IVF – The Albany Center, we understand that no two women experience PCOS in the exact same way. Our multidisciplinary team focuses on managing PCOS through a combination of nutrition services, psychological support, and fertility treatments tailored to meet and support your own unique needs, goals, and timeline.

HAVE PCOS? WE CAN HELP

Our Albany PCOS Fertility Program provides 30 years of experience through the hands of personalized, local care. Our Boston IVF network’s history of research and experience allows our physicians to help women successfully manage even the most complex cases of PCOS.

04WHAT IS PCOS?

In a nutshell: PCOS occurs for the 1 in 10 women whose sex hormones (progesterone, androgen, and estrogen) are out of balance.

Women naturally produce the hormones estrogen and androgen, but women with PCOS create excess androgen in their ovaries. This causes the ovaries to become enlarged and grow small collections of fluid (ovarian cysts), which affects the entire reproductive system, including menstrual cycle and fertility health.

HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE PCOS?

The hormonal imbalance at the root of PCOS can be detected through a simple blood test. In addition, the signs of PCOS are clearly visible for many women living with the disorder. These include: hair on the chin, upper lip, chest, belly, or back; severe acne; and weight gain.

Unexplained, persistent weight gain is another common symptom of PCOS. At our Albany fertility center, we utilize the nutrition, counseling, and mind/body resources of our in-house wellness center, the Domar Center, led by nutritionist and PCOS leading expert Hillary Wright.

Period irregularity is another indicator for hormonal imbalance. Women with PCOS might get their periods once a year, every few months, or even every two weeks. Periods that come less often tend to be heavier and longer lasting, with more painful cramps. Depression, anxiety, and infertility are other non-visible markers of PCOS.

11PCOS AND INFERTILITY

PCOS is one of the most common reasons for infertility. It’s responsible for 70 percent of infertility problems in women who have trouble ovulating.

The reason PCOS is linked with infertility has to do with the way PCOS affects ovulation. Hormonal imbalances in PCOS can cause ovulation to happen less often, but in order to become pregnant on your own, you must have the ability to ovulate.

The good news is that infertility with PCOS is often successfully treatable — there is good reason to remain optimistic about your ability to become pregnant.

DIAGNOSING PCOS

There is no one simple test for PCOS. Instead, our fertility specialist doctors will conduct a comprehensive examination that may include:

  • Blood Testing: To test your blood hormone levels
  • Ultrasound Testing: To identify small cysts in the ovaries
  • Endometrial Biopsies: Closer inspection of your endometrial tissue will help explain irregular periods
  • Fasting glucose tests: are sometimes recommended to measure your blood sugar levels

 

TREATMENT FOR PCOS

Once women receive proper diagnosis, PCOS is a manageable disorder. Although there is not yet a cure for PCOS, the symptoms — including infertility — can be treated.

Birth control pills are often prescribed to those with PCOS. These are androgen-blocking pills that help reduce the levels of circulating testosterone in the body, which helps minimize acne flares, excess face and body hair growth, and can reduce the scalp hair loss.

Lifestyle changes with exercise and diet are an extremely important element in managing PCOS since they address the root of the

Diabetes medication, most commonly metformin, helps to control and regulate insulin and blood sugar, and lowers progesterone production.

For women who wish to become pregnant, we often recommend common fertility medications, such as clomiphene citrate and Letrozole, to help normalize ovulation so that pregnancy can occur.

DOMAR CENTER PCOS PROGRAM

Women with PCOS in Albany not only have the full support of our reproductive endocrinologists, nurses, and fertility team — we also offer support through The Domar Center, our in-house wellness center. A pioneer in the application of mind/body medicine to women’s health issues and dedicated to the physical and emotional health of women, our in house- wellness center provides scientifically proven treatment to reduce the physical and psychological symptoms that accompany infertility, and other medical conditions, including PCOS.

Boston IVF’s own Hillary Wright, M.Ed, RD, is one of the country’s leading experts on PCOS care and PCOS diet. Her book, The PCOS Diet, is a valuable resource for women managing the disorder. Hillary Wright and the Domar Center offer nutrition and counseling services to improve patient well-being through gentle but effective lifestyle changes.

Our counseling and medical team will work together to maximize your overall health, manage your PCOS condition, and address the heavy emotional impact of this disorder.

MANAGING PCOS: YOUR NEXT STEP

Living with PCOS can be challenging, but the sooner you get diagnosed, the sooner you can effectively manage your symptoms and find solutions that work for you. This is why we strongly suggest meeting with one of our fertility experts as soon as possible if you are experiencing symptoms of PCOS.