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Fertility Treatment for PCOS

It’s easy to feel depressed and dispirited if you’re diagnosed with PCOS. It has symptoms that can affect your whole life: weight gain, unwanted hair growth, patches of skin discolouration, low mood and anxiety (these are more reported than average when someone has PCOS but it’s not currently known whether there is a common cause). On top of that, it can impact your fertility severely.

PCOS is caused, as we currently understand it, by an excess of insulin. This, in turn, drives an overproduction of androgen, one of the male sex hormones. This affects your body’s menstrual cycle. In the follicular phase of your cycle, your ovaries mature up to 20 eggs in small sacs (‘follicles’). Eventually the most mature and healthy egg predominates and the others are reabsorbed, while this mature egg is released (ovulated), to be fertilised by sperm in the fallopian tubes.

In PCOS, the excess androgen restricts this process, delaying or preventing the egg from maturing and being released. The eggs remain in their follicles in the ovaries, forming the ‘cysts’ from the longform name of the condition: Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.

There are, fortunately, plenty of options for treatment of PCOS that can improve your fertility, from more frequent and regular ovulation, to helping you identify just when you are ovulating, to lengthening your luteal phase, meaning a thicker endometrial lining and a better chance that the fertilised egg will implant in it to grow into a foetus.

Some options are as simple as lifestyle changes – losing weight and altering your diet to control insulin levels can help to limit the symptoms of PCOS, including, notably, the fertility effects. In some cases, losing some of that excess weight can be enough to kickstart regular and spontaneous ovulation.

You can also talk with your doctor about medication – this is often a dramatic step, with side effects, but your body may require this intervention to help it to ovulate when it should and give you the chance to get pregnant.

Recognising Ovulation

If you do take steps to improve your chances at ovulation, either spontaneously through lifestyle changes, or with help from medication like Clomid, you still need to recognise it when it happens. When you have PCOS, each time you ovulate is important: it’s one of your few chances to conceive.

The standard OPKs – ovulation predictor kits – don’t work when you have PCOS. The hormone disruption the condition brings with it swamps the results and means they can’t give you an accurate answer. A better measure is the one OvuSense uses – Basal Body Temperature. This is the low minimum your body drops to in rest, and it changes when you ovulate. Our specialised sensor measures your core temperature throughout the night, and uses our algorithm to process this into an answer to if you’re ovulating right now, and a prediction for when your next fertile window is.

Taking steps to increase your ovulation, and making sure you know when that key moment is are the two most important steps you can take in you PCOS fertility treatment.

To learn more about pregnancy and fertility issues visit PCOS