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Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and fertility

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is common. It is a hormone imbalance where the ovaries make too much testosterone (a male hormone). Too much testosterone affects your ability to ovulate (release eggs from your ovaries). A woman can’t get pregnant if she doesn’t ovulate. PCOS can lead to irregular ovulation. This makes it harder for women to get pregnant. Some common symptoms of PCOS include:

  • Heavy bleeding if you do have a period
  • Missed periods or no periods at all
  • Acne
  • Hirsutism (hair growth on the face or other areas of the body)
  • Obesity
  • Skin tags
  • Thinning hair
  • Dark patches of skin

Some women get small cysts (fluid-filled sacs) on their ovaries. PCOS can also cause conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure and sleep apnea.

So, it’s important to see your doctor if you notice these signs. These complications can affect your overall health.

If you have PCOS and want to get pregnant, there are treatments to help. Your doctor may prescribe medications to help you or have more regular cycles. Some medications are taken by mouth. Others are given by (a shot).

If medications don’t work, vitro fertilization or another type of assisted reproductive technology may be an option for you.

Talk to your doctor about ways you can create a family. With assisted reproductive technology, this may include medications, insemination, surrogacy, foster parenting and adoption.

Here are a few things to know about fertility treatments:

  • They can be costly. Find out if you have insurance coverage for fertility treatments. If so, ask which types are covered. 
  • Check to see if your employer offer fertility benefits. If yes, which one(s)?
  • State laws vary, which can impact your fertility choices. Find up-to-date information by state about laws and coverage at https://resolve.org/

Some women may undergo an outpatient laparoscopy and a surgery called ovarian drilling. Ovarian drilling can only be done once. The doctor makes a small cut near your belly button. Then they put a tiny camera to look at the ovaries. Through other tiny cuts, the surgeon makes very small holes in the ovaries. This helps women make less testosterone.

Going through fertility treatments can be stressful. You may have mixed emotions. You’re not alone. Reach out to loved ones and your fertility care team. They can help make sure you and your partner find support during your fertility journey.

Disclaimers/footnotes:

This information is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Talk to your doctor or health care provider about your medical condition, and prior to starting any new treatment. CVS Specialty assumes no liability whatsoever for the information provided or for any diagnosis or treatment made as a result, nor is it responsible for the reliability of the content.

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