PCOS and infertility
PCOS is usually the result of irregular hormone levels which affect cycle regularity. This means that women with the condition fail to ovulate normally and are thus unable to conceive. Successful treatment of PCOS itself may restore regular cycles and the chance of natural conception. In other cases, fertility treatment with careful monitoring is usually successful.
The treatment of PCOS
Infertility is not the only consequence of PCOS and we now know that the condition is associated with a range of serious health risks, notably heart disease and stroke. This alone makes treatment important, which is usually achieved through weight loss, physical activity and other interventions to normalise hormone levels.
Infertility treatment in PCOS
The first-line fertility treatment in PCOS is ovulation induction, a course of fertility drugs to encourage the development of one or two eggs. Thus, while ovarian stimulation for IVF and ICSI aims to produce several eggs for collection (in women who are usually ovulating), ovulation induction in PCOS aims to stimulate just one (or two) in women who are not ovulating normally for conception to occur naturally.
Women with PCOS often react very sensitively to fertility drugs and are at increased risk of multiple follicle production and multiple pregnancy. Regular monitoring with ultrasound and hormone measurements are therefore necessary to ensure only one or two follicles are developing. Cumulative results from several cycles of treatment can be very high.
IVF itself is considered a second-line treatment if ovulation induction treatment is unsuccessful or the risk of multiple pregnancy too high.
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