Polycystic ovarian syndrome, is also known as PCOS. Polycystic ovarian syndrome is frequently the cause of Infertility.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
The condition, polycystic ovarian syndrome, known as PCOS, is the commonest cause of ovulation disorders in women of reproductive age and is a familial condition. Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), is a primary ovarian condition and is characterized by the presence of many minute cysts in the ovaries and excess production of androgens. Polycystic ovarian syndrome can be found in apparently normal women and the full expression of the disease so-called “Stein-leventhal syndrome” is very uncommon. Polycystic ovarian syndrome is frequently associated with weight gain, excessive hair growth in the face and body, irregular and infrequent periods or absent periods, infrequent or absent ovulation, miscarriage and infertility. The cause of PCOS is not fully understood. There are long-term risks of developing type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer of the womb. Women diagnosed as having PCOS before pregnancy have an increased risk of developing gestational diabetes.
Incidence of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) accounts for 90% of women with oligomenorrhoea (infrequent periods) and 30% of women with amenorrhoea (absent of periods) and over 70% of women with anovulation.
Diagnosis of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome: Laparoscopy
Laparoscopy allows direct inspection of the ovaries; the ovaries are enlarged and polycystic. However, polycystic ovaries may appear normal at laparoscopy.
Vaginal ultrasound scan (better than abdominal)
The vaginal ultrasound may show the typical PCOS appearance but reliability varies with expertise.
Blood hormone levels of LH, FSH, androgens and SHBG
Ideally, these tests should be performed during the first four days of the cycle. If the women has no period, then the test can be performed anytime, and repeated if the results do not provide a clear picture.
FSH levels are low or normal, LH levels are often raised. However, a normal level does not exclude diagnosis of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). The levels of androgens and testosterone may be raised.
Treatment of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome in women who wish to conceive:
- Weight loss if she is over weight
This simple measure may restore menstruation and ovulation in patients with polycystic ovarian syndrome. Exercise and weight control also reduce the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes in later life.
Ovulation induction with clomiphene (clomid) tablets
Induction of ovulation with clomiphene tablets is the first choice and is an effective treatment of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). It results in restoring menstruation and ovulation in about 70% of women and some 30% will conceive within three months of treatment. Clomiphene tablets maybe combined with steroid tablets to suppress androgen production. If this fails after a six month trial, then controlled ovarian stimulation with FSH or hMG combined with hCG is used.
Surgery is recommended should the medical treatment fail and for women who have experienced OHSS. This may be ovarian drilling or ovarian wedge resection. It is not clear why women with PCOS ovulate after ovarian drilling or wedge resection. After surgery, ovulation occurs spontaneously in 70-90% of women and the probability of pregnancy after one year is in the region of 40-60%.