Do you have PCOS? PCOS – or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome – is one of the most common causes of fertility problems thought to affect around 1 in 10 UK women.
As September is PCOS Awareness Month, here’s an overview of what PCOS is, how PCOS can affect your fertility and the expertise and treatments we offer to help you have a baby:
What is PCOS?
PCOS is a condition caused by a hormonal imbalance. Symptoms vary from person to person, but can include:
- Menstrual problems - irregular periods or no periods at all
- Difficulty getting pregnant
- Increased body hair caused by high levels of male hormones
- Weight gain
- Thinning hair/hair loss
- Acne/oily skin
Why does PCOS cause fertility problems?
Because PCOS affects the way the ovaries work, it can be harder to get pregnant. If you have PCOS, your ovaries are typically enlarged and have a large number of fluid-filled sacs, or follicles, which contain immature eggs. But these don’t mature and release an egg as they should do, due to the hormonal imbalance. Which is why women with PCOS don’t ovulate regularly, or ovulate at all.
PCOS can also cause weight gain and a high BMI – which in itself also makes it harder to conceive. The good news is that if you have PCOS, it doesn’t mean that you can’t have a baby.
Do I need fertility treatment if I have PCOS?
Not all women who have PCOS need fertility treatment. Some women with PCOS may be able to conceive by reducing their BMI to within a healthy level, and tracking cycles when ovulation does occur using at-home ovulation prediction kits.
Others will need fertility treatment. It all depends on the severity of your PCOS and how it affects your reproductive and general health.
What fertility treatments can help with PCOS?
At Manchester Fertility we’re highly experienced in treating PCOS. Because PCOS affects every person differently, if you do need fertility treatment it will be carefully planned.
We’ll firstly perform initial fertility tests to get an accurate picture of your current reproductive health, including a pelvic ultrasound exam. This allows us to assess how you might respond to ovarian stimulation, the levels of fertility hormones you need and the type of treatment that is likely to work best for you.
A personalised treatment protocol is especially important for women with PCOS, who can be at a higher risk of developing Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS), which is when the ovaries over-respond to fertility medications and produce too many mature eggs.
We may also advise that you to lower your BMI before starting treatment, as a high BMI can reduce the likelihood of successful treatment. The BMI limit for treatment at Manchester Fertility is 35.
PCOS fertility treatments include:
Induction of Ovulation
Tailored doses of fertility medications are used to gently stimulate your ovaries to produce and release a mature egg. We’ll identify ovulation through blood tests or scans; you can then either attempt to conceive naturally, or through intrauterine insemination (IUI) with partner or donor sperm at our clinic.
IVF for women with PCOS involves using minimal doses of fertility medications to ensure you safely produce a good number of mature eggs for IVF treatment. The eggs are then fertilised using partner or donor sperm, with the best resulting embryo transferred to your uterus for pregnancy.
Treatment with donor eggs
Some women with PCOS may not be able to use own eggs in treatment because of issues with egg quality. In this case using donor eggs offers a way forward to a family. We have strong success rates for donor eggs treatment at Manchester Fertility. You can start treatment straight away with no waiting list, using either fresh or frozen donor eggs from our own UK egg donor programme.
Book a consultation: PCOS fertility advice and getting pregnant help
If you have PCOS and want to start your family, book a consultation with one of our friendly and experienced fertility consultants to learn more about your pregnancy options. Book your consultation online or call our team on 0161 300 2737.
Last updated: 18th September 2019