Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

Up to 10 percent of all women may suffer from a disorder unheard of by many of them. Yet a variety of medical problems, including infertility related to ovary damage, may signal the presence of polycystic ovary syndrome, often called PCOS.

The syndrome is a metabolic disorder characterized by abnormal hormone levels, a condition that may be associated with a wide range of afflictions, ranging from severe acne, excessive hair on the face and/or body, and obesity, to more severe disorders such as infertility, diabetes, and heart disease. It is not unusual for women to seek treatment for different PCOS symptoms without having the syndrome recognized.

Because symptoms appear throughout the metabolic system, an endocrinologist may be the best type of specialist to diagnose the syndrome. A diagnosis of PCOS is often made when a woman seeks medical help for infertility.

PCOS and Fertility

PCOS is one of the most common causes of female infertility, yet it is difficult to diagnose because of its wide range of symptoms.

Doctors at UT Southwestern say there are many ways to restore fertility in patients with PCOS. The primary step is getting an accurate diagnosis.

Evaluation

Diagnosis of the disorder is obtained by menstrual history and physical manifestations and, if required, by ultrasound of the ovaries, measurement of hormone levels, and other tests. Fertility treatments can range from hormones to in vitro fertilization.

Treatment

Because weight gain is common with PCOS, losing weight can help with the hormone changes and other disorders, such as diabetes. Other treatments could include birth control pills to regulate your periods, and treatments for the abnormal hair growth. With treatment, women are usually able to get pregnant.