Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and Your Fertility
Polycystic ovary syndrome is caused by a hormonal imbalance, which can affect the regularity of your menstrual cycle and make it difficult to conceive. You can manage symptoms with proper medication and lifestyle adjustments. Dr. Sonja Kristiansen can evaluate your condition at our Houston, TX, clinic and develop a treatment plan to improve your cycle and reproductive health. For patients who wish to begin a family, she can also perform IVF (in vitro fertilization) when conservative methods do not sufficiently resolve the issue. Board-certified in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility (REI), Dr. Kristiansen is dedicated to helping women improve their fertility.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Explained
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is caused by a hormonal imbalance in the body that results in cyst growth in and on the ovaries. This condition can result in irregular menstrual cycles, such as missed periods or more frequent periods, and lead to female factor infertility. During a healthy menstrual cycle, the egg is released from the ovary and travels down the fallopian tubes to the uterus. For women trying to conceive, PCOS can cause egg damage or irregular ovulation. When the egg is damaged or not released properly, sperm are unable to fertilize it, preventing women from naturally conceiving.
What Causes PCOS?
PCOS affects around five to 10 perfect of women in the United States. It can develop at any age once a female goes through puberty, but has a strong impact on women in their 20s and 30s who are trying to conceive. Women who are obese or have a family member with PCOS have a greater chance of developing PCOS. Although the exact cause is unknown, doctors have linked it to high levels of androgens and insulin.
- All women have a small amount of androgens (male hormones) in their body. However, women with PCOS produce higher levels of androgens than normal, which can cause acne, male-pattern baldness, excess hair growth, and irregular menstrual cycles.
- Insulin is the hormone that assists with the digestion of food. When functioning normally, it turns sugar into energy. If your body is insulin resistant, your blood sugar levels can rise. Insulin resistance frequently leads to type 2 diabetes, especially in obese patients. However, it can also cause an increase in androgens, which in turn can lead to PCOS.
To determine the cause of PCOS, our team can perform a thorough evaluation using the latest techniques.
PCOS affects around five to 10 perfect of women in the United States. It can develop at any age once a female goes through puberty, but has a strong impact on women in their 20s and 30s who are trying to conceive.
Symptoms of PCOS
Symptoms vary for each woman, but can include:
- Abnormal hair growth on the face or chin
- Irregular menstrual cycle (fewer than eight each year that occur every 21 days)
- Missed periods
- Acne on the face, back, or chest
- Hair loss
- Weight gain
- Difficulty losing weight
- Skin tags
- Skin darkening in the natural creases on the neck, along the groin, or under the breasts
If you are experiencing symptoms, you should schedule an appointment with Dr. Kristiansen to ensure proper diagnosis.
Diagnostic Process and Treatment
If Dr. Kristiansen suspects you may have PCOS, she will perform a full physical examination. This may include a pelvic exam and transvaginal ultrasound. Using this technology, we can determine the health of your uterine lining and identify any cysts on your ovaries. If necessary, we may take additional blood tests to review your hormone levels. After diagnosing PCOS, we can establish a treatment plan. Although PCOS is incurable, you can manage symptoms with lifestyle adjustments and medications, including:
- Weight loss
- Oral contraceptives
- Anti-androgen medication
- Metformin (a medication to control type 2 diabetes)
We also offer holistic treatments should you desire a more natural approach. If you are concerned about your fertility and wish to have a family, we may recommend:
- Weight loss and healthy diet
- Fertility medications, such as Clomid to help you ovulate regularly
- IVF (in vitro fertilization)
We may recommend IVF if more conservative treatments have failed. During the process, we can retrieve eggs from the female partner and sperm from the male partner, We can then combine the eggs and sperm in our laboratory and carefully supervise their growth. Once the embryos have developed, we can transfer them to the uterus.
Schedule Your Visit
If you are concerned you may have PCOS and have had difficulty conceiving naturally, you should schedule a fertility evaluation with Dr. Kristiansen. Please contact us online or call our Houston office.