PCOS, which stands for polycystic ovarian syndrome, is a condition affecting many women of reproductive age. It is, in fact, one of the main causes of infertility for women. A lot of women first discover that they have this condition upon seeking consultation with a fertility specialist if they are unable to become pregnant. Some estimate that fewer than a quarter of the women with the condition are unaware that they have it. This is often because a lot of the symptoms of the condition are attributed to other potential causes. It is not until women try to get pregnant, and cannot, that they seek medical consultation to determine the cause and find they have the condition.
Women who have PCOS produce a good deal of insulin, which may lead to the production of more male hormones called androgen. This can negatively affect the ability of the body to produce female hormones that are required for ovulation, so egg follicles do not mature. Instead, some follicles may contain cysts. With ovulation not present, progesterone, the hormone that causes the uterine lining to thicken for implantation of the embryo, does not get produced and the menstrual cycle may become irregular.
To treat the condition, many turn to fertility drugs such as Clomid, which block the estrogen receptors in the brain so the body thinks that estrogen is low and production of LH and FSH increase. The latter hormones are what lead the body to ovulate. Some patients with PCOS turn to injections of LH and FSH, which directly increase levels of those hormones in the body so that follicle production and ovulation is stimulated. Many will turn to these injections if they do not find success with Clomid or other treatment options.
But not all women with the condition turn to fertility drugs to become pregnant. Some may turn to procedures like in vitro fertilization, which extracts eggs from the ovaries and combines them with sperm inside of a dish in a laboratory setting. The eggs and sperm create embryos, which can be transferred to the uterus for implantation. Still, medication may be required to stimulate the production of mature eggs capable of creating embryos. Many other assisted reproductive technologies (ART) are used as well, but many of these also require the use of fertility drugs to stimulate the production of mature eggs. Make sure that you speak with your doctor regarding the potential side effects of these medications.