September marks Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) awareness month and with this condition affecting millions of women in the world, there are some key facts about the condition to highlight that can affect a women's fertility when suffering with the disorder.
PCOS is a very common yet extremely complex condition, and has a huge effect on a woman's self esteem with some very unpleasant symptoms, which can have a dramatic effect on her appearance. The condition runs throughout families, is one of the leading causes of infertility and can lead to additional health problems later on in life such as heart disease and diabetes if it isn't properly managed.
Some 20% of women suffer with Polycystic Ovaries, which describes ovaries that have small cysts just below the surface, these cysts are egg-containing follicles that are immature meaning ovulation rarely happens and these women struggle to conceive. However, there are many successful treatment options to help women with this condition conceive, and even if a woman doesn't want to have children it is still very important to have the condition managed to avoid further health problems developing.
It is believed that this condition is caused by abnormalities in the hormones that control the menstrual cycle. The cysts themselves are not harmful and don't need to be removed, however some women who have less than four periods a year can be susceptible to their womb lining becoming too thick, these women may be helped with medication such as the oral contraceptive pill, progesterone tablets or the progesterone releasing coil.
Diagnosis is determined through a hormone test and an ultrasound of the ovaries.
Because of the issues with some women being insulin resistant this can lead to the other health problems such as heart disease and diabetes. Most women with PCOS can manage their symptoms through a healthy diet and exercise programme to help their condition. When a woman's weight is within a healthy BMI for her height then she has more chance of normal ovulation and therefore pregnancy.
If a woman is suffering with more than one of the symptoms then the condition is classified as Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, which affects between 5-10% of women.
Symptoms vary in women; some only have mild symptoms whilst other may have more severe symptoms.
Symptoms of PCOS can include: