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Houston Fertility Center

IVF and PCOS: Fertility Treatments for Women

By Sonja Kristiansen, MD on November 16, 2016

Illustration of the uterusWomen with polycystic ovarian syndrome, or PCOS, typically struggle with abnormal menstruation, recurring miscarriages, and infertility. The condition affects nearly 10 percent of all women in their reproductive years. While the condition can be frustrating, it does not mean conception is impossible. Our doctors can accurately diagnose PCOS and help you explore your fertility treatment options, such as in vitro fertilization (IVF). You can also explore the benefits of undergoing IVF with PCOS at our Houston, TX fertility center.

What Is PCOS?

Polycystic ovarian syndrome has several distinct characteristics:

  • Abnormal functioning of the ovaries, which may include irregular menstruation, ovulation, and infertility
  • Androgenicity, or an increase in body hair and acne due to higher levels of male hormones such as testosterone
  • Higher weight or body mass index (BMI)
  • Micro ovarian cysts

Women with PCOS also typically have a history of diabetes in the family and demonstrate insulin resistance. The condition also puts women at a greater risk of developing reproductive cancers of the uterus or ovaries, and potentially breast cancer.

PCOS and Infertility

Because PCOS is characterized by abnormal or absent menstruation and ovulation, women with the condition often find it difficult to get pregnant. Chromosomal abnormalities and poor egg quality are also possible due to over-exposure to the elevated male hormones. Women with PCOS may suffer recurrent miscarriages (two or more), or they may not have the ability to conceive at all.

Fertility Treatment Options for Women with IVF

There are a variety of fertility treatment options available for women with PCOS. Our doctors advise against the use of fertility drugs, however. The use of fertility drugs in women with PCOS can result in ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS). Symptoms of OHSS may include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rapid weight gain
  • Diarrhea or general abdominal pain
  • Difficulty emptying your bladder

While ovulation induction and intrauterine insemination (IUI) are often effective ways to successfully achieve conception for women with PCOS, they may face a higher risk of multiple pregnancies. This often results in a women getting pregnant with twins, triplets, or more.

Why IVF Is the Best Fertility Choice

In vitro fertilization is often the most effective fertility treatment for women with PCOS. Unlike IUI, IVF limits the number of embryos that reach the uterus. With IVF, our doctors select a small number of mature embryos to insert into the uterus. This significantly lowers the risk of the potential for multiple pregnancies. In general, IVF is one of the most effective fertility treatment options available. It is particularly effective for patients that have PCOS-related infertility.

Contact Us Today to Discuss Your Fertility Options

Whether you have been previously diagnosed with PCOS or you have simply struggled to get pregnant, our fertility specialists can help. We will carefully evaluate every aspect that could impact your fertility and offer appropriate treatment solutions based on your needs. We provide in-depth patient education on IVF so you can make an informed decision about your fertility treatment. Contact our team at Houston Fertility Center today to schedule an appointment to get started.

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