PCOS And Pregnancy - Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

PCOS And Pregnancys

Image: Shutterstock

Polycystic ovary syndrome is a common problem among women in their childbearing years. It can also happen to girls as young as 11 years old. Almost 5 million women in United States are affected with polycystic ovaries. Research is still on to find the exact cause behind polycystic ovaries. PCOs can throw a spanner to your attempts to become pregnant. However, it is possible to become pregnant even if you have polycystic ovaries. Since, polycystic ovaries can be prevented by making lifestyle changes and can be treated with medicines. So there is a solution and hope for those who suffer from PCOS.

You must have a lot of questions buzzing around in your mind and may not find the answer you are looking for. The first question that comes to your mind is why polycystic ovaries actually happen.

Symptoms And Treatment

Click here to view an enlarged version of this infographic.

Causes of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome:

Some genetic factors are behind polycystic ovaries. If your mother had polycy

stic ovaries there are high chances that you will have polycystic ovaries also. The underlying factor behind polycystic ovaries is hormonal imbalance. Women with polycystic ovaries produce excessive amounts of androgens or human male hormones that interfere with the release of egg during the ovulation process.

Some researchers state that insulin is linked to polycystic ovarian syndrome. The Insulin hormone helps to convert the sugar and starches and other food into energy for the body to store. If the body can’t utilize the amount of insulin secreted or if there is over secretion of insulin then the female body starts to produce androgens. The high levels of androgens can trigger:

  • Acne
  • Facial hair growth
  • Weight gain
  • Ovulation disorders

However the exact reason behind polycystic ovaries are unknown and more study needs to throw some light in this area to make treatment possible.

What is PCOS?

If you are overweight or obese, it could be harder for you to conceive. This is because being overweight or obese increases the risk of developing PCOS, or polycystic ovary syndrome. This is a condition that is associated with your reproductive system and makes it difficult for you to get pregnant.

While doctors are still unsure about the exact causes of PCOS, they do know that the condition develops due to high levels of insulin, which, in turn, causes your ovaries to produce more than normal amounts of androgens, which are male hormones.

How PCOS Affect Menstrual Cycle and Fertility:

The ovary is comprised of tiny fluid filled sacs called follicles or cysts. As the eggs develop there is fluid buildup inside the follicles. Once the egg matures the follicle breaks open and the egg is released. The egg travels to the fallopian tube and then it reaches the uterus to get fertilized. This is the normal ovulation process.

In women with PCOS, the reproductive system does not produce hormones required for the egg to mature. The follicles start to grow and the fluid builds up but the ovulation does not happen. As a result some follicles remain in the ovaries as cysts. Since ovulation doesn’t occur the hormone progesterone is not produced and without progesterone the menstrual cycle becomes irregular or totally absent. Ovaries also make male hormones or androgens which disrupts the normal ovulation period.

Does PCOS Change During Menopause?

PCOS affect other systems in the body. Though there are hormonal changes and ovarian function changes as women near menopause but the symptoms persists. There are excessive hair growth in face, chest, back and abdomen. Thinning of hair and male pattern of baldness continues during menopause and sometimes become worse.

PCOS can also cause other health complications like diabetes, heart attacks and strokes.

What Increases The Risk of PCOS?

It is difficult to prevent PCOs if it is in your genes. You can’t help it if your family history is responsible for PCOs. In addition to this if you have diabetes, you are obese and have irregular menstrual cycle there is increased risk of PCOS.

Also having a seizure medicine called valproate such as Depakote can cause PCOS.

Complications Associated With PCOS:

If polycystic ovaries are not treated in the right time then it can cause complications like:

  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Cholesterol and Lipid Abnormalities. Increase in triglycerides and low high density lipoprotein or HDL cholesterol. This cause cardiovascular problem.
  • Elevate d levels of C – reactive protein which is a cardiovascular disease marker.
  • Metabolic Syndrome that also cause cardiovascular problems
  • Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis: This is an acute inflammation in the liver due to excess fat accumulation.
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Abnormal Uterine Bleeding
  • Cancer of the lining of the uterus, it is called endometrial cancer. This is caused by the overexposure of high levels of estrogen.
  • Gestational Diabetes or pregnancy induced high blood pressure
  • Ectopic Pregnancy: Women with PCOs have a risk of developing ectopic pregnancy and other birth complications. Ectopic pregnancy happens when the embryo implants itself in the fallopian tube instead of the uterus. This can cause the fallopian tubes to burst and also cause miscarriage. Ectopic pregnancy is both dangerous for mother and child.