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Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome: Symptoms and Treatment Options

Last updated 6 years ago

Polycystic ovarian syndrome, or PCOS, is a common disease that occurs when a woman’s hormones are out of balance.  Normally, women only have a small amount of male sex hormones, called androgens, circulating in their bodies.  Women with PCOS have higher-than-normal levels of circulating androgens, which can result in a range of symptoms that can vary widely from woman to woman.  These symptoms normally include, but are not limited to:

  • Pain in the pelvic area
  • Irregular menstrual periods—which can be infrequent or absent altogether
  • Increased hair growth on the chest, face, back, or stomach (hirsutism)
  • Cysts on the ovaries
  • Dandruff, acne, or oily skin
  • Excess flaps of skin in the armpits or neck area, called skin tags
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Weight gain or obesity, typically with extra weight around the waist
  • Infertility from not ovulating

Polycystic ovarian syndrome is the leading cause of infertility in the United States.  The ovaries of women with PCOS do not produce the hormones that an egg needs to fully mature, preventing ovulation from occurring.  Fortunately, there are several treatments available to help these women become pregnant.  These treatment options include:

  • Clomiphene
    Also called Clomid, this medication is usually the first therapy chosen to stimulate ovulation in many patients suffering from infertility
  • Metformin and Clomiphene
    If Clomid alone fails to stimulate ovulation and achieve conception, metformin can be taken in conjunction to help women with PCOS ovulate on lower doses of the medication
  • Gonadotropins
    Gonadotropins are hormones given as injections. While most effective, they are more expensive in comparison to Clomid and raise the risk of multiple births if not administered by a Reproductive Endocrinologist in conjunction with IVF. It is critical to be monitored appropriately when taking these drugs to avoid Hyper Stimulation of the ovaries, which can lead to irreversible harm of the ovaries and in serious cases surgery or hospitalization.

In Vitro Fertilization is another option for those with PCOS. If you would like to learn more about available treatment options, contact the professionals at Fertility Centers of Illinois today at (877) 499-8730.


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