PCOS treatment options vary by what the patient’s goal is: alleviating symptoms or achieving pregnancy
You may be seeing more teal ribbons on social media this month and wondering what this stands for. If you are not in the know, September is traditionally observed as PCOS Awareness Month. Our Louisiana fertility specialists can offer you PCOS treatment options, whether your goal is to alleviate symptoms or to achieve pregnancy.
Polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS for short, affects up to 10% of the world’s female population. That’s over 100 million women worldwide! It is the most common endocrine disorder in women and is commonly diagnosed by irregular cycles, evidence of high male hormones, and multiple cysts on the ovaries seen by ultrasound.
Though extremely common, PCOS can show up in many different ways. The reality is that PCOS is not one disease, but a compilation of several hormone problems that all lead to the same end result: too many eggs in the ovary at one time making too much of the wrong hormones. Physical symptoms range from acne, hirsutism (excessive hair growth in all the wrong places), obesity (specifically in the upper body region), and infrequent periods.
Patients with PCOS are at increased risk for other diseases such as heart disease, sleep apnea, anxiety and depression, issues in pregnancy, and some cancers. Therefore, treatment of PCOS should encompass a patient’s whole life to address the needs and risks that are relevant throughout the life stages.
Insulin resistance seems to be commonly associated with patients with PCOS. Insulin helps control the amount of sugar (glucose) in the blood. With insulin resistance, the body’s cells don’t respond normally to insulin. Glucose can’t enter the cells as easily, so it builds up in the blood. This can eventually lead to type 2 diabetes. All patients with PCOS should at least have a conversation about screening for insulin resistance and if treatment can be beneficial in their case.
PCOS treatment options should should be tailored to the actual underlying problem, addressing the goals for that particular patient.
Whether your goal is to control your menstrual cycle, treat abnormal hair growth, or achieve pregnancy, the PCOS treatment option you choose should be for that specific goal. Medication therapy may include birth control pills, metformin, or other medications designed to combat excess male hormone activity.
In PCOS patients who are interested in achieving a pregnancy with fertility treatments, Letrozole is considered first line therapy in ovulation induction for PCOS women, not Clomiphene. It has been shown to have a higher ovulation rate, and may even have a lower risk for multiples. Also, metformin may help in conjunction with Letrozole, but does not appear to be enough on its own for inducing ovulation. Success rates with IVF are usually very high in patients with PCOS, particularly when combined with elective single embryo transfer.
Contact us for more information about PCOS and how to treat it.