Women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) often struggle with fertility for several reasons. Eggs may not be released naturally which leads to irregular periods. There may be high levels of the hormone androgen, a male sex hormone that’s present in females in small amounts. Or, small fluid-filled sacs may form in the ovaries known as cysts, which can affect the way the ovaries work.
The experts at the Center for Reproductive Health help women manage disorders of the reproductive system including PCOS so that they can work toward attaining optimal reproductive health. So, what fertility treatment is best for PCOS?
Some, but not all, women with PCOS also struggle with obesity. One of the first forms of treatment for PCOS is to work on making lifestyle changes that can benefit overall health such as choosing healthy foods, watching portion sizes, and including regular physical activity in the daily routine.
If you have PCOS, your doctor may ask you to try losing weight before putting you on any type of medication. Losing as little as 5 percent of your body weight over the course of six months can lower glucose levels and sometimes helps to stimulate ovulation.
Your doctor may prescribe medications that can help ovaries to release eggs naturally. Examples of these medications include:
Clomiphene. This is the most frequently prescribed medication to treat infertility in women with PCOS. However, taking this medication increases the risk of getting pregnant with multiples.
Metformin. This medication is used to treat insulin resistance and diabetes, and it may help to stimulate ovulation when used by itself or together with Clomiphene.
Letrozole. This medication stimulates the production of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), which is a hormone the body needs for ovulation. It targets the underlying hormone imbalance in PCOS.
Another option your doctor may suggest for stimulating ovulation is treatment with gonadotrophins, which are hormones such as FSH given by injection. This form of treatment has to be closely monitored and can be costly. If other medications aren’t working, your doctor may recommend a shot of gonadotropins combined with oral medication such as Clomiphene.
In Vitro Fertilization
If other methods of treating fertility in women with PCOS are unsuccessful, in vitro fertilization (IVF) is another option. Injectable fertility drugs are used to stimulate the ovaries into producing mature eggs. Eggs are retrieved and combined with sperm in Petri dishes. After three to five days, one or two fertilized eggs are implanted into the uterus. After two weeks, a pregnancy test is done to see if the treatment was successful.
Another option is called mini IVF which has a low cost and minimal risk. In this treatment method, ovaries are minimally stimulated and immature eggs are retrieved in a minor surgical procedure and allowed to mature in a lab environment. The goal is to create only a few high-quality embryos for transfer to the uterus.
At the Center for Reproductive Health, our caring and compassionate team works with you to find the best fertility treatment for each individual, including those with PCOS. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.