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PCOS and Ovulation

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome has a dramatic effect on your whole body – the list of symptoms is long, and includes impacts as diverse as weight gain, unwanted hair growth, skin discolouration, and even mood effects like depression and anxiety. It’s not currently known if this is caused directly by the biological impact of the condition on your body, or if it’s a psychological effect of living with PCOS.

Of course, one of the most dramatic effects of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, and the one that the most people know about is its impact on your reproductive health. Unfortunately, it’s not widely known how or why PCOS can make it harder for you to get pregnant, even among sufferers. Today, OvuSense is here to explain, to help you make better, more informed choices about you can mitigate the effects.

The Endocrine System

The reason why PCOS can affect so much of your body is because it’s a condition that manifests in your endocrine system: the system of organs and pathways which your body uses to create and distribute the hormones that govern how it functions. If something affects your hormones, it has the potential to affect almost any part of your body or process going on inside it.

Your menstrual cycle is governed by a system of hormones: when PCOS interacts with that system it causes delays and irregularities that stop your cycle working according to a regular schedule. PCOS starts when your body begins to produce more insulin than normal. This also leads to elevated levels of oestrogen and testosterone, and taken together these three hormones can significantly delay when you ovulate.

Ovulation

The key point of your menstrual cycle is ovulation – when your ovaries release a mature egg that can then be fertilised by sperm, leading to pregnancy. It’s this important process that PCOS affects: the interactions of those three hormones cause your ovaries to mature eggs much more slowly, and can also prevent them receiving the hormone signal (a surge of LH, the Luteinising Hormone) that prompts the egg to finally be released.

This causes eggs to remain in the ovaries, in fluid filled sacs called follicles. Normally eggs are either released into the fallopian tubes, or reabsorbed by the body, but PCOS can cause them to linger, causing the ovaries to become swollen and uncomfortable.

Ovulation is only suspended altogether in the most severe cases of PCOS, but if you’re ovulating unpredictably, then it can be hard to know when you’re fertile, and you can miss the days when intercourse has the best chance of actually leading to pregnancy.