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PCOS and Infertility : Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

| 04 Mar 2022 | 22893 Views |

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) refers to a group of symptoms that is concerned with the ovaries and ovulation. It is clinically interpreted as:

  • Irregular or missing of periods
  • Unusual growth of hair on the face and body
  • Cysts in the ovaries
  • High levels of male hormones


In PCOS, various tiny, fluid-filled cyst like sacs develop inside the ovaries, which gives it a “polycystic” appearance. These sacs are the follicles, which contains an immature egg. However, these eggs fail to attain enough maturity for trigger ovulation. The lack of ovulation results in an imbalance in the female hormonal level like estrogen, progesterone, FSH, and LH. Ultimately, the ratio of female to male hormones gets confused that results in an abnormally low level of estrogen and progesterone levels, with very high androgen levels. This imbalance of hormone leads to missing of menstrual periods and results in problems relating to conception. It also adds to long-term health obstacles like diabetes and cardiac disease. Contraceptive pills and drugs for diabetes also fixes the imbalance in hormone and thus improves the symptoms.

The precise causes of PCOS are still unknown to doctors. However, it is believed that high levels of androgens stop ovaries from producing the female hormones that make eggs normally. insulin resistance, inflammation and genetic factors have also been associated with the excess of androgen production.

Symptoms of PCOS

Some women may observe symptoms when they have their first menstrual period. While others realize they have PCOS only when they gain a lot of weight or when they face trouble getting pregnant.

The most obvious symptoms of PCOS are

  • Irregular periods: A lack of ovulation inhibits the uterine lining from dropping every month. Some women suffering from PCOS get less than eight periods in an entire year.
  • Profuse bleeding: The uterine lining develops up for a prolonged period, so the periods can be heavier than normal.
  • Hair growth: around 70% of women suffering from this condition undergo hair growth on their face and body including their back, belly, and chest. Extreme hair growth is termed as hirsutism.
  • Acne: Male hormones make the skin oily than normal and result in breakouts in areas such as the face, chest, and upper back.
  • Weight gain: Approximately 80 per cent of women suffering from PCOS are overweight and obese.
  • Male-pattern baldness: Hair on the scalp starts thinner and start falling.
  • Darkening of the skin: there may be dark patches in the body creases on different areas such as neck and groin.
  • Headaches: Hormone changes are responsible for triggering headaches in some women. For becoming pregnant, you need to ovulate. Women who are unable to ovulate normally don’t release as many eggs to be fertilized. PCOS thus becomes one of the leading causes of infertility in women.

Treatment Options

Lifestyle modifications are considered to be the first treatments that doctors recommend for PCOS. Weight loss is also quite important for treating PCOS symptoms and improve the chances of getting pregnant. Taking a good balanced diet and exercising are two powerful ways to lose weight.

Medicines are only an option if lifestyle changes don’t work. Birth control pills and drug like Metformin can both return back your normal menstrual cycles and relieve PCOS symptoms.

Many women who have PCOS and undergoes IVF treatment can find success in getting pregnant after following the diet and medications for PCOS.

About The Author
Dr. Richika Sahay

MBBS (Gold Medalist), DNB (Obst & Gyne), MNAMS, MRCOG (London-UK), Fellow IVF, Fellow MAS, Infertility (IVF) Specialist & Gynae Laparoscopic surgeon,[Ex AIIMS & Sir Gangaram Hospital, New Delhi]. Read more

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