Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a common endocrine issue. However, many don’t even know they have it. PCOS makes up 25% of infertility cases. Women are often not correctly diagnosed until they start trying to conceive and begin experiencing infertility issues.
September is an opportunity to help raise awareness and educate the public on this syndrome. The more others learn and potentially recognize they might have PCOS, the more they can be their advocate and get the treatment they need.
When you’re dealing with PCOS, it’s like a “hormone domino effect.” Women diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome typically have an elevated level of male hormones. The male hormones affect the ovaries as they are not able to make the hormones needed for an egg to mature fully. When the eggs are not fully mature, it can stop you from ovulating, and when ovulation doesn’t happen, your cycles can become irregular or stops altogether. Each aspect affects another and can create issues health wise and fertility wise.
I spoke to Dr. Joseph Davis, the Medical Director of Cayman Fertility Centre, a Reproductive Endocrinologist and a promoter of holistic medicine, which he incorporates into their high tech fertility care. He is also a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine. I asked Dr. Davis what approach he takes with PCOS patients that are trying to conceive. “I individualize the care to each person. Whether someone is not interested in getting pregnant now or TTC and has symptoms of PCOS. I find a comprehensive plan involving healthy living, diet, exercise, stress management, meditation, and acupuncture to be important,” he said. “There are certainly some advantages of using hormone medications for symptoms such as acne or irregular cycles, but ultimately PCOS involves the whole body, and treating one symptom without discussing the whole body and mind is ultimately not for everyone.”
Symptoms of PCOS
Signs of PCOS can vary, but these are some symptoms you may experience:
A physician will be able to diagnose you through a pelvic exam to look for any abnormalities, blood tests to check your hormone levels. In some cases, they may also run a fasting glucose test, and an ultrasound to look at the appearance of your ovaries.
“Often women are labeled PCOS because they either have longer than average menstrual cycles, or they had an ultrasound showing a lot of eggs and then started on birth control pills,” Dr. Davis explains. “PCOS has a particular set of criteria to be correctly diagnosed, even though there is no one test for PCOS. I feel the most important first question is what are your thoughts about family building so we can find a treatment regimen that fits your situation. Many medical conditions can give symptoms like PCOS, so it is also essential to speak with your doctor about your health and medical history. Finally, there are non-medical options for treating symptoms of PCOS, and it is vital to ask about those in addition to the medications.”
If you are diagnosed with PCOS, your doctor might recommend additional tests to treat you best. Overall, being aware of PCOS and receiving treatment can significantly help in getting the condition under control.
“The important first steps are to consider how your particular symptoms will impact your life and what lifestyle consideration or medications can help,” Dr. Davis advises. “Some women with PCOS have very irregular menstrual cycles, and this can lead to increased risks of uterine cancer and infertility. Other types of PCOS have more regular cycles but have high male-type hormones (androgens), which can lead to acne and extra hair growth. Treating these different symptoms can have impacts on the family building, and having a comprehensive discussion about PCOS will help you make informed decisions and ultimately empower you!”
GoStork encourages you to spread the word as it’s possible you, someone you may know, or even both may have PCOS.