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Fertility Road Magazine 46 - September/October 2018

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The latest issue of Fertility Road Magzine brings you our latest Fertility Journeys update, a closer look at stress and infertility, natural approaches to endometriosis and a how your weight can affect your chances of getting pregnant plus lots, lots more.

FERTILITY 360 48 |

FERTILITY 360 48 | | fertilityroadmag | follow us @fertilityroad

FERTILITY 360 What Women Need To Know About Polycystic Ovary Syndrome By Michael Ah-Moye FRCOG, CEO and Consultant Gynaecologist What are polycystic ovaries? The term Polycystic ovaries was coined in the 1930’s because it was thought that the ovaries contained many cysts, which was incorrect as the “cysts” are in fact just follicles. A follicle is where an egg develops. Polycystic ovaries are usually larger in size and contain more follicles than normal. What is polycystic ovary syndrome? It is important to know that having polycystic ovaries does not necessarily mean that the woman has Polycystic Ovary syndrome. Some women have polycystic ovaries without any symptoms. Only women manifesting symptoms are classified as having the syndrome. Studies show that 20 – 25% of all women have polycystic ovaries, but less than 10% will have the syndrome. Polycystic ovary syndrome (known as PCOS) is, therefore, a common hormone disorder. It can cause a woman’s menstrual cycle to be longer than normal, be irregular and infrequent, and in severe forms, there may be no periods at all. PCOS can affect a woman’s ability to conceive and may affect her appearance with excess body and facial hair, acne and oily skin, and a tendency to be overweight. What causes PCOS? There is no known cause for PCOS and why some women develop it while others don’t. However, we do know that it often runs in the family, so there may be a genetic link to the condition. What are the symptoms of PCOS? •Irregular periods where there are longer gaps in between periods or no periods at all • Increase in facial and body hair known as hirsutism • Loss of hair on the head • Oily skin and acne • Problem with fertility • Overweight Most of the symptoms of PCOS are due to the abnormal hormone levels associated with the condition and can vary tremendously from woman to woman. The hormones that are abnormal, are raised levels of the male hormone testosterone and also insulin which is a hormone linked to diabetes. Women trying to fall pregnant may also face difficulties, due to ovulatory problems associated with PCOS. There also appears to be an increased risk of miscarriages. Mood swings and depression Women with PCOS are more likely to experience higher levels of depression and low self-esteem, caused both by the hormonal imbalances of the condition or by the symptoms it presents. If you are experiencing mood swings, do get help from your doctor for both your PCOS and your depression, even if it means a referral to a mental health specialist. Diagnosis As already mentioned some women with polycystic ovaries do not have the syndrome and therefore do not have any symptoms. Many are diagnosed when they seek help for their infertility. Others have symptoms but are unaware of what causes them. Symptoms to look out for: irregular, infrequent periods and an increase in facial or body hair. The best investigations to diagnose polycystic ovaries are ultrasound scan of the ovaries and hormone tests to check the levels of Anti- Mullerian Hormone (AMH) and testosterone. What are the long-term consequences of PCOS? Irregular periods can increase the risk of uterine cancer, acne can cause scarring, and weight can become harder to manage. Getting diagnosed and treated sooner rather than later is the best way to lower the risk of these problems. Insulin resistance and diabetes In PCOS the body responds less well to insulin which leads to a higher level of insulin and increased glucose level. Raised insulin may lead to irregular periods, weight gain, increased testosterone and fertility problems. It is estimated that 10-20% of women with PCOS go on to develop diabetes in later life. Furthermore, women with PCOS have an increased risk of diabetes if they are over 40 years old, have a family history of diabetes, have developed gestational diabetes in previous pregnancies and those who are obese. | fertilityroadmag | follow us @fertilityroad | 49

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Fertility Road Magazine 46 - September/October 2018

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