Friday, August 17, 2012

PCOS and Infertility

So you've reached that point in your life when you decided to have a baby. You and your significant other try and try and try to have a baby, but to no avail. Month after month the pregnancy test comes back negative... you may or may not have a visit from 'Aunt Flo', because some of you have never had a regular menstrual cycle in your whole life (at least not for more than a few months at a time!) Finally, you decide to go see a doctor. During that first visit or maybe a few visits down the road, you are given a diagnosis of PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome). Honestly, you probably have not even heard of PCOS, or you may know a friend of a friend who has been diagnosed with it, but haven't really given it a second thought.

You get home from your doctor visit and scour the internet for information about what this thing you have really is... The more you learn the more you realize that all these seemingly unrelated symptoms actually relate! You also may learn that you may be able to have a baby after all. 

Now I need to make a note here... I can honestly say that this is one of the symptoms of PCOS that I haven't really had to deal with (except for a first trimester miscarriage with my first pregnancy). However I felt this was an issue that I needed to address (and have actually put it off for a while!), even though it is not one that I deal with personally. I hope I handle this in a way this is sensitive to those who do struggle with this! 

PCOS is actually one of the leading causes of infertility in females - but less than 25% of women who have PCOS are actually diagnosed with it! To put this into perspective - let's look at 100 women - in a typical population 5-10% of these women would have PCOS. That means 10-20 women in our group would have PCOS. (Okay, I'm not getting into statistics and how our group is small and may not show the norm... not worrying about that stuff!) Out of these 10-20 women with PCOS, only 2-5 of them actually KNOW they have it! As someone who as lived with symptoms of PCOS I can say that knowing is SO much nicer than wondering if you are 'normal' but never knowing that there is something else causing these seemingly unrelated symptoms. 

As far as PCOS and fertility go - there have been studies done that show following a healthy diet, exercising and actually losing weight (which can be difficult with PCOS - trust me I know that one!) can help you conceive. I partly believe that this is one of the reasons I haven't really had an issue conceiving - it's because every time I try to conceive I decide I need to be healthier so I start eating better and exercising (first -miscarriage- and second times I got pregnant), or I have been on a diet and losing weight for a while (third pregnancy - 10 months of dieting and exercising before conceiving.) However, the diet/exercise approach doesn't work for everybody. There are also medications you can take, or procedures that can be done. I do not really know that much about these medications or procedures (other than I know that my OB would have been willing to give me fertility medications after 3-6 months of trying to conceive instead of how long they usually wait due to the fact that I have PCOS, and the medication increases the chances of having twins.) These would be decisions that need to be made with a doctor and have the pros and cons weighed... especially the more invasive procedures like IVF.

*Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, nor do I have a lot of knowledge of PCOS other than what I've read (and continue to read). This is just me, my opinions, how I understand PCOS (which may be flawed, but I am trying to understand more completely) and how I am dealing with it.

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