PCOS – A Leading Cause of Infertility

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Getting pregnant is easy, right?

Everyone thinks it should be. After all, all it takes is a man and a woman, a little physical intimacy, and voilá – a positive pregnancy test is the result. It seems we assume fertility until proven otherwise.

young couple, grieving

Only that’s not how it really happens for many couples. They struggle with infertility, and the problem is getting worse. It has increased from 5.4% in 1984 to over 15% currently.

Infertility Defined

Infertility is defined as a couple being unable to conceive after 12 months of unprotected intercourse, or having two or more consecutive failed pregnancies.

Approximately seven percent of all infertility is solely attributable to the male partner, 37 percent to the female, and 35 percent to both, with 21 percent unexplained.1 Can a couple enhance their fertility using natural means? The answer is  – very possibly.

Among the most common causes of female infertility are polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, uterine fibroids, structural problems of the reproductive system, implantation failure after conception, primary ovarian failure, and autoimmune disorders.

What is PCOS?

Specifically, up to 10% of all reproductive-age women have PCOS. And the good news is that there are many natural options that have been clinically and scientifically proven to help enhance fertility, as well as the woman’s overall health, in cases of confirmed PCOS.

What to expect in an appointment with me.

PCOS is often a part of Metabolic Syndrome. Metabolic Syndrome centers around insulin resistance (type 2 diabetes) which, in 2004, was reported to affect approximately 25% of women in their childbearing years – and this number is on the rise.2

Metabolic Syndrome includes these symptoms in women: waist measurement larger than 88 cm (35 inches), elevated blood sugars, elevated fasting glucose, elevated blood pressure, elevated serum triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol.3

woman holding teddy bear in a nursery

The most obvious symptom of PCOS is having fewer than nine menstrual cycles per year. Weight gain or excess weight that just won’t come off, acne, and excess facial hair are also common symptoms.

A pelvic ultrasound in a woman who has PCOS will reveal ovaries that have many partially mature follicles (eggs) that seem to be stuck in the process. This mixes up the hormones and delays ovulation until one of them gets unstuck.

What does insulin resistance (type 2 diabetes) have to do with this?

When the diet is high in carbohydrates (breads, pastas, baked goods, candy, soda pop, alcohol, most fruit), the insulin spikes to handle the carbs. This spike decreases the amount of Sex Hormone Binding Globulin, whose job it is to bind up testosterone. This allows the testosterone to increase, which inhibits the effects of estrogens. Ovulation and implantation need the right balance of estrogens, progesterone, and testosterone.

If you want to get pregnant, but have menstrual cycles that average longer than 45 days, talk to your doctor and ask to be tested for PCOS. Research suggests that cycles that are too short or too long are less fertile, so the goal is to get the cycles down to between 26 and 34 days.4

What testing can be done to identify PCOS?

Tests requested for fertility assessment usually involve blood work (estradiol, luteinizing hormone, follicle stimulating hormone,  progesterone, testosterone, thyroid stimulating hormone, Free T4, Free T3, glucose and others) and a pelvic ultrasound. Holistically, tracking and recording the Basal Body Temperature can also provide valuable information. It’s good to know what you’re working with and to have baseline testing done.

What can be done to control PCOS?

If your test results suggest that PCOS is a problem, most family doctors will offer medications like clomid to aid in ovulation and/or metformin to stabilize your blood sugars. Neither of these really address the problem.

Addressing PCOS is a multi-faceted process that always includes dietary work and often includes vitamins, minerals, other supplements, and lifestyle changes. It’s best if each woman’s program is developed specifically for her, based on the test results from her doctor. Progress can often be tracked using Basal Body Temperature charting.

Helping women improve their health, and thereby their fertility, is one of my passions.
Contact me at 403-850-5503 for an appointment if you would like help improving your health.

1. 2013 – Journal of Fertility and Sterility

2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2377292/

3. Ibid.

4. https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article/97/10/E1871/2833345

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