Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a disorder that can affect a woman’s ability to become pregnant and cause other health problems. Although its cause still eludes researchers, a number of treatments are available to help patients at fertility clinics in New York City.
According to Womenshealth.gov, between 5 and 10 percent of women in their childbearing years suffer from PCOS. The condition occurs as early as age 11 and affects up to 5 million U.S. women. Many are obese or overweight.
The name of the disorder is linked to the condition of a patient’s ovaries, says the Mayo Clinic. In most patients, these organs are enlarged, with many cysts on the outer edge of each ovary.
To diagnose the disorder, specialists look for at least two of three symptoms in patients who visit a New York fertility clinic:
- Abnormal menstruation. This includes intervals in excess of 35 days, fewer than 8 cycles in a year, absence of menstruation for at least 4 months and/or periods particularly heavy or light.
- Elevated androgen levels. Higher-than-normal male hormone levels create excess body and facial hair, acne and male pattern baldness.
- Polycystic ovaries. Ultrasound imaging reveals ovarian enlargement and the presence of many small cysts. However, the ovaries of some PCOS women actually look normal.
While the exact cause of PCOS remains unknown, doctors associate the condition with excess insulin, heredity, excess exposure of a fetus to male hormones and low-grade inflammation.
Complications of PCOS
Having polycystic ovarian syndrome predisposes patients to other conditions. Among the most frequent are type 2 diabetes, hypertension and abnormalities in levels of cholesterol and lipids. Patients might show above-normal levels of a marker for cardiovascular disease and signs of metabolic syndrome.
Some suffer from a severe liver inflammation related to fat accumulation, sleep apnea, endometrial cancer and abnormal uterine bleeding. Risk factors for gestational diabetes or high blood pressure related to pregnancy are also elevated.
- Medications include fertility drugs, weight-loss medications, acne drugs, birth control pills to stabilize menstrual cycles and insulin-sensitizing drugs.
- Hormone replacement therapy can correct a hormonal imbalance.
- Cosmetic treatments for hair removal and acne improve an individual's self-image.
- Nutritional advice helps patients deal with obesity and insulin resistance.
- Surgery to remove the ovaries or uterus is an alternative for some women who don’t desire any pregnancies in the future.
Specialists at fertility clinics customize treatment plans for PCOS patients seeking to become pregnant and create therapies to manage long-term problems associated with the disorder in other women.