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Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and Infertility

Written in partnership with Univfy,
January 6, 2014

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a condition in which the follicles in a woman’s ovaries containing immature eggs may not grow and ovulate. The small follicles may develop ovarian cysts, which can disrupt the hormonal balance and interfere with ovulation.

Approximately 5 to 10 percent of all women have PCOS. It is diagnosed when two of the following conditions are present:

  • Irregular menstrual cycle and ovulation, or no ovulation
  • Increased levels of male hormones, known as androgens
  • Polycystic ovaries identified during an ultrasound examination

Other symptoms include excess body hair, acne and obesity.

Women with PCOS may have difficulty getting pregnant and are at risk of hyperstimulation with fertility treatment. In addition, they have twice the rate of miscarriage than women without the condition. That may be a result of poor egg quality related to ovulating too early or too late, or a thickened uterine lining. However, if all other factors are equal, Univfy research has found that PCOS patients tend to have slightly higher probabilities of having a baby in their first IVF cycle (Choi et al., Fertil Steril 2013).

If you think you might have PCOS and are trying to get pregnant, schedule a consultation with a reproductive endocrinologist (fertility doctor) for a fertility workup. Your doctor will perform tests to rule out other causes of your symptoms before making a PCOS diagnosis. S/he will likely perform an ultrasound of your ovaries before starting any fertility treatment.

Medications for insulin resistance help many infertility patients. These medications lower insulin levels, which cause androgen levels to drop. As a result, the menstrual cycle can become regular again.

For patients who do not ovulate, the oral fertility drug Clomid is generally the first line of treatment to help induce ovulation. If that is not successful, injectable fertility drugs with intrauterine insemination (IUI) or IVF are the next step. Although IUI may seem simpler, the doctor has much less control over the number of embryos that can result, and multiple pregnancy is associated with higher risks for the mother and newborns. Even with IVF, low doses are generally prescribed, to reduce the risk of ovarian hyperstimulation.

Comprehensive online data analysis can accurately predict your IVF success by taking your health data into account, including whether you have PCOS. If you’re thinking about your first IVF cycle, the Univfy PreIVF Test will analyze your reproductive profile: Age, height, weight, smoking history, reproductive history and clinical diagnosis, in addition to your laboratory test results, and partner or donor sperm count. Your fertility profile will be compared to the first IVF cycles of tens of thousands of women and couples predict your IVF success.

If you have previously had an unsuccessful IVF cycle, the Univfy PredictIVF Test can be used to analyze your reproductive profile, plus the data from your last failed IVF cycle, response to fertility drugs, endometrial lining, egg yield, and embryo quality. Your fertility profile will be compared to data from more than 20,000 women or couples who tried IVF again after one or more IVF failures.

This valuable information can help you and your doctor develop the best treatment plan for your individual situation.


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