Polycystic ovarian syndrome is the commonest hormonal disorder in the reproductive age group where women having PCOS will exhibit symptoms such as irregular periods, weight gain, acne, excessive hair growth on the face/body or dark patches on the skin due to high levels of androgens – the male hormones. PCOS can also take a toll on a woman’s fertility and if you are looking to decode the connection between PCOS and infertility, you’ve come to the right place.
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Sulbha Arora, Clinical Director at Nova IVF Fertility in Mumbai, answered some of the frequently asked questions related to PCOS and infertility to help understand the facts related to polycystic ovarian syndrome and infertility and seek timely intervention if one is diagnosed with PCOS:
1. How does PCOS impact fertility?
PCOS is the commonest cause of anovulatory infertility. That is when a woman does not ovulate regularly. Women with PCOS may have delayed ovulation, and at times they may not ovulate at all without the help of medication. This can cause problems in conceiving. PCOS is also associated with weight gain, which in turn can also make conceiving difficult. Currently, a large number of women are detected with PCOS-related infertility.
2. At what age should unmarried women with PCOS freeze their eggs if they want to postpone their pregnancy?
The earlier a woman freezes her eggs, the better her chances of getting good quality eggs, regardless of PCOS. As a general estimate, this should be done by the age of 30 years, although we have frozen eggs for women much older than that as well.
3. Please share some recommendations on unmarried women with PCOS going for egg freezing.
Consult a fertility specialist to understand the process and what it entails for you. If you have a high BMI (above 40 kg/m2) then you may be advised to lose weight before attempting it. At higher BMI ranges, the doses of injections required may be higher, and risks of anesthesia as well. For a reasonable chance of pregnancy in the future, it is advisable to freeze 15-20 mature eggs.
4. Even newly married women are suffering from PCOS. Is Embryo freezing, a good option for them to postpone their pregnancy?
The single most important determinant of a couple’s fertility is the age of the female partner. If the couple is young, they may not need it yet. In the older age group, it is a good option. For younger couples not yet planning a pregnancy, this is a good time to make positive lifestyle changes that will help them not just with their future fertility but with their overall health as well.
5. What should women with PCOS try to keep in mind while conceiving?
PCOS is the commonest hormonal disorder in the reproductive age group, so don’t be stressed if you have been diagnosed with it. Consult your fertility specialist to chalk out a plan of action. In most cases, just positive lifestyle changes are all that are required for a successful chance at conceiving. Some others may require some hormonal correction, and for those who don’t conceive with that, assisted fertility techniques such as intrauterine insemination (IUI) and In Virto Fertilisation (IVF) are promising options with very good success rates. With all the advances that have taken place in the field of reproductive medicine, these techniques have become simpler and safer with next to negligible incidence of discomfort, pain, or complications.