September is officially designated as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) Awareness Month. Many of the patients we see at Cardone Reproductive Medicine and Infertility have PCOS, a condition that is characterized by irregular periods and ovulation, weight gain, excessive hair growth, acne and multiple ovarian cysts as seen on an ultrasound. Higher percentages of this condition are found in African-American females (8%) and Latinas (13%) than among Caucasians (4.8%).
Some other features of PCOS are increased production of both estrogen and the male hormone androgen, as well as insulin resistance. Doctors consider women to have PCOS when two out of three of these factors are present:
- Irregular periods and anovulation
- Hyperandrogenism (excessive secretion of the male hormone androgen that can result in increased growth of body hair); and/or
- Polycystic ovaries.
Obesity is a common symptom with 50% of PCOS sufferers being overweight. Ten percent of PCOS patients have Type 2 diabetes. Small to moderate weight loss will restore menstrual cycles and help PCOS sufferers ovulate to eventually achieve pregnancy. Weight loss also helps to decrease insulin resistance and moderates other health risks, making it easier to achieve pregnancy. Doctors usually recommend lifestyle modification with proper nutrition and increased exercise to achieve the ideal BMI (body mass index).
PCOS and Infertility
PCOS also affects infertility, but is very treatable through a combination of medication, dietary and lifestyle changes and if necessary, IVF. Whether you want to get pregnant or not, PCOS still should be treated to avoid future health complications like cardiovascular disease, endometrial cancer or diabetes.
At CRMI, we want to do our part to raise awareness. Here are a few resources you might find helpful if you are dealing with PCOS:
- Corey Whelan, program director and health educator, The American Fertility Association: September is PCOS Awareness Month.
- Keiko Zoll, Infertility Advocate: The Voices of PCOS: A Three-Part Series on PCOS Featuring Bloggers
- My PCOS Treatment: a new Website for women and their families and friends to connect to the online PCOS communities and to find information, blogs, links, forums and hopefully the start of a solid foundation of support.
Thu, September 8, 2011
by Terri D. filed under