Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a health condition that can cause infertility. Between 5 and 10 percent of women in the U.S. have PCOS but only 25 percent of the women with PCOS even know that they have the condition. To be diagnosed with PCOS, women must have at least two of the following symptoms:
- Irregular or absent ovulation
- High levels of androgens (hormones) or excess body hair (such as on the face or lower abdomen)
- Ovaries that appear polycystic (fluid-filled sacs in the ovaries)
According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) women with the PCOS symptom hirsutism (excessive hair growth) should seek treatment as soon as possible. When hirsutism treatment is delayed, the problem often gets worse.
Women with PCOS often have a harder time getting pregnant and may have other troubling symptoms such as:
- Pre-diabetes or metabolic syndrome
- Acne or oily skin
- Recurrent miscarriages
- Unpredictable menstrual cycles
- Anxiety or depression due to infertility, skin problems, or excess hair growth
While most women with PCOS are obese, underweight women and those with a healthy BMI can be at risk for PCOS. Check out this article from The American Fertility Association own Corey Whelan who talks about “skinny chicks” with PCOS.
Some fertility specialists do specialize in diagnosing and treating PCOS. If you are seeking help for PCOS, look for a doctor that specializes in PCOS. Remember that when it comes to PCOS, just like many other health conditions, we often have to be our own best advocates. Be brave enough to go for that second opinion. Ask your doctor for that additional test. Speak up about your feelings especially when your intuition tells you that something is wrong.
Britt Berg is a medical writer, blogger and Facebook moderator for Attain Fertility. She is also a trained therapist and co-author of Making a Baby, a book about infertility.