Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is one of the most common hormonal abnormalities in young women. It sometimes manifests as weight gain and excessive hair growth and will usually result in irregular menstrual cycles—which can lead to infertility.
Women are typically diagnosed with PCOS as teenagers and will begin taking a form of birth control to help them regulate their cycles. When they go off the birth control to try to get pregnant, their cycle becomes irregular again and infertility becomes an issue.
One woman, diagnosed with PCOS, came into the Arizona Center for Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility, after she and her partner had difficulty achieving a pregnancy. Here’s how our team helped them solve their problem and have a baby.
Our Initial Consultation
This patient came into our center when she realized her periods had become irregular once she went off birth control. Having been diagnosed with PCOS as a teen, she knew this was the potential issue and didn’t wait more than a few months before making an appointment for a consultation.
We knew what the diagnosis was likely to be, and we immediately started having her prepare for pregnancy—taking prenatal vitamins, monitoring her caffeine intake, and eating more nutritious foods.
Identifying the Problem
A common problem with PCOS is that it is oftentimes misdiagnosed. If a patient is having irregular menstrual cycles or having difficulty getting pregnant, and maybe they’ve gained weight, their OB/GYN will typically assume it’s PCOS because it is such a common condition. However, when we’re dealing with infertility, we want to make sure that is the actual cause, because there are other issues that can interfere with ovulation and seem like PCOS, such as thyroid problems or even excessive stress. The types of medication we use to induce normal ovulation for women with PCOS often do not work if that isn’t the correct diagnosis.
It’s important to have the correct diagnosis so the treatment can be effective. When patients come to us, we ask for their medical history, perform examinations to check their ovaries, and conduct hormonal tests to confirm the diagnosis is in fact PCOS.
Once we determined the results with this patient, we explained how the principal problem is that her cycles were irregular and her ovulation wasn’t occurring regularly. The reason isn’t because the ovaries don’t contain eggs, but rather, the ovaries are resistant to the hormonal signals telling them to release the eggs. Then we talked about the treatments to help remedy the issue and regulate her cycle.
Achieving a Successful Pregnancy
When we made the diagnosis, we put the patient on medication to treat the underlying hormonal problem and induce ovulation. Along with the process, we also made sure to check for any other potential problems (with the fallopian tubes, uterus, etc.) and with her partner to ensure nothing else would prevent pregnancy.
It was relatively easy to correct the problem of PCOS using medication, and pregnancy followed fairly quickly.
However, it’s important to understand that, in general, once we correct the problem and the patient starts ovulating, there still isn’t a 100 percent chance of pregnancy within the first month of trying. After medication, patients have the same chance as anyone else when they go off birth control and try to get pregnant. Some may get pregnant on the very first try, and it may take three to four months for others. Ultimately, PCOS is extremely treatable, and there are usually very few issues after we’ve solved the problem.
Because our patient is diagnosed with PCOS, if she decides to have a second child, she will still have to come in for infertility treatments, because it is not a condition that will correct itself. We will need to induce ovulation again before she can have another successful pregnancy.
If you and your partner have been struggling to get pregnant and you suspect PCOS might be the cause, contact the AZCREI today by calling 520-326-0001 or by visiting us online. We look forward to the opportunity to help you grow your family and have a healthy, happy baby.