One of fertility’s biggest challengers
Talk to any fertility expert and chances are PCOS will be part of the discussion. It’s the leading factor for women who are experiencing fertility challenges and unfortunately, at this point in time. We spoke with Randall A. Loy, M.D from the Center for Reproductive Medicine to discuss the basic information about PCOS as well as the best ways to mitigate its effects.
What is PCOS?
PCOS stands for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and according to Dr. Loy it’s, “the most common ovulation disorder in the world.” In fact, it’s something he sees every day—treatment and mitigation of PCOS makes up about 10% of his practice. PCOS is when a woman experiences at least 2 of the 3 following:
- Irregular menstrual cycles - In this case ‘irregular’ refers to ovulation that is out of sync and erratic —this could mean between 0 and 10 cycles in a year, or a lengthy time without any ovulation.
- Increased androgens - Androgens are sex hormones, like testosterone. If they’re out of balance, or excessive in a female, it can result in oily skin, acne, increases in facial and body hair growth, as well as mood and other changes.
- Excessive follicles on the ovaries – There should be 11 or fewer follicles per ovary and this can only be monitored through an ultrasound. These follicles are small cysts within the ovaries that contain eggs.
Of the individuals that Dr. Loy sees that have been diagnosed with PCOS, 75% will struggle with fertility, 50% will lack regular periods, 25-30% have acne, 35-40% have excessive facial hair or body hair growth. Experts don’t know the underlying cause of PCOS but they do know that genetics play a part.
How to mitigate the effects and treat PCOS
While there isn’t a cure for PCOS, there are ways to live with and minimize its effects. PCOS can be thought of as a disease of insulin resistance. This means that the pancreas continues to produce insulin in the body to keep attempting to balance out the blood sugar present in the body. This insulin interacts with the ovaries creating increased androgens such as testosterone which results in fertility challenges. There are, however, ways to minimize PCOS and Dr. Loy lays out his most important strategies below:
- Pay attention to your lifestyle - Dr. Loy recommends regulating your weight with a high protein, low carb diet and regular, daily exercise.
- Help from prescribed medications - There are many oral medications like clomid, letrozole or insulin sensitizing agents that can work alone or together to assist in ovulation. Speak with a fertility specialist near you about these medications and appropriate testing.
- Over the counter supplements - Some supplements are now available that affect the body like medications such as metformin but are naturally derived and less potent. These are used primarily to help regulate and stabilize the insulin and blood sugar peaks and valleys.
Finding the right balance
According to Dr. Loy, each individual should work with their fertility specialist to devise their own unique plan to deal with PCOS. He noted that he does have some patients who have focused on nothing but diet, exercise and a PCOS specific supplement like NutraBloom’s PCOS Blend. Using the purest ingredients, this specialized formula combines myo-inositol, D-chiro-inositol and other antioxidants that help decrease insulin resistance and re-establish normal menstrual cycles and ovulation. It’s a natural, accessible way to help offset the rollercoaster that can be detrimental for fertility and conception.