23 Sep Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) Awareness Month
September is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) Awareness Month, and we will take this opportunity to talk about this condition, which although unknown, is very intriguing in its own right. We’ll begin by explaining what exactly PCOS is, and shortly after that, we’ll focus on debunking some common myths about it.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is one of the most common reproductive disorders in women, and it is caused by an underlying hormonal imbalance. As a result, the way in which the ovaries normally function is affected, and often, though not always, this leads to irregular or non-existing periods. Women trying to conceive can experience difficulty in getting pregnant, as ovulation becomes quite challenging to track. Besides, considering that this condition is related in many cases to overweight problems, it could be said that PCOS has a negative impact not only in the gynecological context, but also in many other areas of health.
Factors that determine PCOS include:
• Infrequent (less than 9 times a year), irregular (with more than 35 days between them), or prolonged (abnormally heavy) menstrual cycles.
• A disproportionate production of androgens (male hormones, such as testosterone), leading to oily skin and acne, as well as excessive hair growth or hair loss in different parts of the body.
• The existence of multiple follicles in the ovaries, with a peculiar distribution, and a distinctive ultrasound image, giving rise to the term “polycystic”, without them actually being cysts. A follicle is a sack full of fluid inside, where an egg develops and matures.
• Additionally, PCOS patients, especially those who are overweight, have a tendency to develop insulin resistance, which over time leads to an increased risk of Diabetes Mellitus in adulthood.
Still, not all PCOS patients have irregular cycles. A healthy lifestyle (regular physical activity, a well-balanced diet) and an appropriate intake of nutritional supplements (inositol and its derivatives) can help regulate ovulation cycles, thereby restoring patients’ chances of conceiving naturally.
Now, let’s focus our attention on some common misconceptions about Polycystic Ovary Syndrome:
• Myth #1: PCOS patients are not able to get pregnant at all, or in the event of pregnancy, they are likely to have a miscarriage, or other pregnancy complications.
• Fact #1: Pregnancy is difficult to achieve mainly due to the alteration of ovulation cycles. The risk of miscarriage or that of other pregnancy complications can be associated with accompanying conditions, such as obesity, and hyperinsulinism. For this reason, treating the cycle irregularity with the right medication, while also treating the accompanying conditions with the right dietary advice and supplements, proves that it is certainly possible to achieve a successful and evolutive pregnancy.
• Myth #2: If you have PCOS, then you cannot be an egg donor.
• Fact #2: Women with PCOS tend to produce more eggs, which could translate to more embryos being formed in an IVF cycle with donor eggs. Of course, they will require specific medication and dosage for them, aiming to optimize their response and minimize the risk of an excessive response.
• Myth #3: PCOS is only treated with the birth control pill.
• Fact #3: Many doctors manage their patients’ menstrual irregularities by prescribing them hormonal birth control. But if a woman is looking to get pregnant, the chosen approach will obviously be different, ranging from natural-holistic methods (reducing stress, a personalized diet, targeted physical activity, adherence to a normal sleep-wake cycle) to medications for inducing ovulation, as well as Assisted Reproduction treatments (Insemination, In Vitro Fertilization) with outstanding results.
Now, we would like to present you with an original idea to make your friends, social media contacts and others around you, aware of the importance of visiting a gynecologist, who is the best ally in your search for both your gynecological well-being and for becoming pregnant whenever you wish to do so. Easy! Simply paint one of your fingernails purple throughout the month of September, to represent the statistic that 1 in 10 women of reproductive age has PCOS. Once you’ve captured others’ attention, you can help raise awareness around this ever more important topic.
Our team at Reproclinic would like to remind you that working with a fertility specialist will help you get on the right track. If you have recently been diagnosed with PCOS but are not seeking to get pregnant at the moment, we would like to invite you to book a consultation with us to discuss your options for fertility preservation. If, on the other hand, you’re looking to start a family, our advice would be to contact us as soon as you feel ready, and we will create a personalized plan for your fertility treatment, designed to maximize your chances of a successful pregnancy.
We are proud to have helped numerous patients with PCOS become pregnant in the past, and we continue to do so on a daily basis. We believe that the Reproclinic Method, consisting of using the most advanced technology and the tireless work of our dedicated professionals, at the service of our patients, is the best way to make your dreams come true.