PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome)

PCOS is an endocrine condition in women that may be characterized by an unusually high level of male hormones, irregular menstrual cycles and multicystic ovaries. About one in 10 women has the condition and it may run in families. Women with PCOS can have higher levels of insulin in their bodies which in turn causes higher levels of androgens (male hormones) to be produced. The higher levels of androgens can cause the following symptoms:

  • Irregular menstrual cycles
  • Inconsistent or lack of ovulation
  • Numerous cysts on the ovaries
  • High blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Acne
  • Elevated insulin levels
  • Infertility
  • Excess hair on the face and body
  • Thinning of the scalp hair (alopecia)
  • Excess weight (usually around the middle)

PCOS is thought of as one of the most common reasons for infertility in females. In women without PCOS, many follicles each month will grow, but only one will become dominant and fully mature to release an egg. If the egg is not fertilized, the progesterone, produced by the corpus luteum left after ovulation declines and menstruation occurs. In women with PCOS, however, many follicles will also grow but, due to insufficient hormone levels, none of the follicles will fully mature and therefore no egg is released. What results are many smaller, immature follicles that continue to produce estrogen and builds a thicker endometrial lining. Since no egg is released and no progesterone made, the cycles continue and bleeding becomes irregular as the estrogen levels and not high enough to maintain the thickening endometrial lining. Since no progesterone results, the periods may vary in length and duration.

While there is no cure for PCOS, it can be managed with medications for both the hormonal aspects as well as physical aspects. Chicago Infertility Associates are experts in PCOS and can provide a personalized treatment plan as well as advanced treatment options such as ovulation induction or IVF. If you suspect that you may have PCOS or are experiencing the symptoms above, please contact us so we can work with you to help you realize your dreams of starting a family.