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PCOS and pregnancy

PCOS and pregnancy
August 01
10:51 2014

Know it all about Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and how it can affect your pregnancy

Are you finding it hard to conceive a baby, despite having unprotected regular sex for more than six months? Are you suspecting any infertility problem? Worry not; you are not the only one who is finding it hard to get pregnant. Moreover, today there is a treatment available for almost all the medical problems including infertility.

However understanding the cause of infertility is very important.  One really common hormonal disorder among women of reproductive age is PCOS or Poly cystic ovary syndrome.

What is PCOS?

The name polycystic ovary syndrome comes from the look of the ovaries in most, but not all women with this syndrome- enlarged and contains numerous small cysts located along the outer edge of each ovary (polycystic appearance). When women have excess male hormone levels (androgen) and lesser female hormones, they develop polycystic ovary syndrome. This makes ovulation irregular or rare. Generally, an egg is released when the contained follicle in the egg grows which results in a matured egg. PCOS prevents those follicles from growing, causing them to develop in the ovaries and form small benign estrogen-releasing cysts.

The combination of estrogen and androgen start the production of two other hormones, luteinizing hormone (LH), Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), which also stops the ovulation. Without ovulation, male hormone levels remain high, which keeps the cycle going.

PCOS can affect a woman in various ways:

  • Appearance (Obesity, Acne, Excess hair growth)
  • Hormones
  • Ability to have children
  • Irregular Menstrual cycle
  • Heart

Probable Symptoms of PCOS:

  • Infrequent, irregular or absent menstruation cycle
  • Unexplained weight gain or obesity
  • Difficult in conceiving/ infertility
  • Increased hair growth on the chest, face, stomach, thumbs, toes, or back
  • Dandruff, oily skin, acne
  • Thinning of hair or male pattern baldness
  • Sleep apnea: when breathing stops for short periods of time when sleeping
  • Pelvic pain
  • Excess flaps of skin on neck or in the armpits (skin tags)
  • Depression or anxiety

Causes:

  • The causes of PCOS are not known. However, here are few factors that can be probable causes of polycystic ovary syndrome:
  • Genetics: If anyone in your family say, your mom or sister has PCOS then there may be chances of you having it too. Researchers are still trying to get evidence that transformed genes are linked to PCOS.
  • Excess insulin: The excess insulin might boost androgen (male hormones) production by your ovaries. Your pancreas produces insulin that allows cells to use glucose (sugar), which is the key energy supply of your body. If you have insulin resistance and your body uses insulin ineffectively, then your body has to release more insulin to provide glucose to cells. This excess insulin can be the cause of PCOS.

Diagnosis procedure:

If you experience two or more symptoms from the above mentioned list of symptoms, then consulting your doctor is highly recommended. Your doctor will evaluate your symptoms study your medical history and conduct blood tests to measure hormone and sugar levels. Doctor might want to check if your ovaries are swollen or enlarged, so pelvic exams can also be prescribed. Your doctor might also perform a vaginal ultrasound to check for cysts in your ovaries.

How can PCOS affect women when pregnant?

Women with PCOS may have high rates of:

  • Preeclampsia: Pregnancy provoked high blood pressure
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Premature delivery
  • Miscarriage

It is said that Metformin can reduce the chances of having problems for pregnant women with PCOS syndrome. Metformin is a diabetes medicine, which is also known to lower male hormone levels and restrict weight gain in obese women when they are pregnant. However, no proof of guaranteed results is available; as a result consulting your doctor is a must. Researches are conducted to find out the effects and safety of metformin during pregnancy. Talk to your doctor about metformin when pregnant or trying to get pregnant.

Losing weight and attaining healthier BMI will also reduce insulin resistance which can make PCOS better.

Treatment options for women trying to get pregnant:

After diagnosis, depending on your physical condition, your doctor will present you with a customized treatment regime. If you are overweight then your doctor may advise you to lose weight, which can assist in improving ovulation. Fertility drugs can also be prescribed. When fertility drugs also seem to be of no good use, doctor may prescribe the insulin sensitizing drug. These types of drugs help many women with PCOS women ovulate; one of those drugs is Clomiphene. However, results may vary. Doctors can also recommend laser surgery to remove ovary cysts.

Removal of ovarian cysts may improve your hormone imbalance and ovulation cycle. But, results are not permanent.

Hope this article will be help you understand PCOS better. Please consult your doctor as soon as you suspect any such problem.

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