Many women – and couples for that matter – have experienced the heartache that comes with difficulty getting pregnant. An inability to become pregnant may be due to many factors. However, among the most common, is polycystic ovary syndrome or PCOS.
PCOS affects between six and twelve percent of women of childbearing years in the United States, or up to five million women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a hormonal disorder that results in abnormal menstruation cycles and an increased level of androgen. Androgen is considered a male hormone since it is found at much higher levels in men.
PCOS also is associated with enlarged ovaries that contain follicles, which affect the ovaries ability to function properly, and hence can make getting pregnant difficult.
There are additional health risks for women with the condition, especially for women who are overweight. For instance, more than have of women with PCOS develop diabetes by age 40. They also are at an increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, sleep apnea and other potentially serious conditions.
Though the causes of PCOS are unknown, its symptoms are treatable. And with the right treatment, many women with the condition can become pregnant. Treatment often begins with a healthy diet to lose weight. There are also many medications and hormone therapies that can help regulate the menstrual cycle and increase the chances of becoming pregnant.
So while there is not a cure for PCOS, its impacts on affected women’s lives and plans for a family can often be limited with the right care.