PCOS and Fertility
One of the leading causes of infertility in women is PCOS, a metabolic syndrome characterized by a number of signs and symptoms. Many new patients coming into the clinic seek treatment for this diagnosis.
Because PCOS is a syndrome, it presents in a variety of ways in different people. However, there are 3 clear diagnostic criteria, and in order to get diagnosed, a patient needs to present with at least two.
Anovulation or oligoovulation: This is the most common first sign that brings women into the doctor’s office as some further investigation is required: irregular periods characterized by a cycle length of 35 days or longer. As a result, the patient has less ovulations per year. Some women with PCOS menstruate every 35 days, whereas others get a period every 3 months and even longer.
Polycystic ovaries on imaging: Often called the “string of pearls” phenomenon, the ovaries are so covered in follicles, that they resemble a string of pearls on ultrasound.
Elevated serum androgens: this would be determined by a blood test showing an excess of male hormones in the blood.
Because PCOS is a metabolic disorder, there are many health risk factors aside from the fertility ones, such as stroke, heart disease and diabetes. Aside from the above fertility symptoms, there are other signs that may point to this diagnosis. Since the syndrome is characterised by insulin resistance, there may also be increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels.
The good news is that there are lots of self-care solutions that are absolutely inside of your control. For example, a PCOS diet can make a huge difference. There are also some supplements that have a lot of great research behind them. Here are my four favourites.
Myo-inositol is an insulin-sensitizing supplement which decreases testosterone. This is great news for PCOS patients, as insulin-resistance is a common indicator of PCOS. The supplement is also great for egg quality.
N-acetyl Cysteine: This supplement is gaining traction lately for PCOS, as it has the effect of supporting fertility by reducing inflammation and increasing the production of antioxidants. In addition, it reduces insulin by increasing insulin sensitivity.
Vit D: adequate levels are associated with many good fertility outcomes. For example low Vitamin D levels are associated with low AMH levels. For PCOS, it also improves insulin resistance and reduces androgens.
Omegas: Omega fish oils have a wide spectrum of beneficial effects. They reduce inflammation, improve cardiovascular health, relieve depression among other things. In the case of PCOS, it also improves insulin resistance.
There are many things that you can do to improve your chances of conceiving with a diagnosis of PCOS. If you have any questions about your own health picture, email firstname.lastname@example.org today and book in for a tele-health consult. I’m always available for a chat.