Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

About 20% of women have polycystic ovaries (PCO). Many women with PCO have normal menstrual cycles and actually do not have a problem conceiving. However, some women have small follicles on their ovaries which get stuck at a certain stage of development before they can get to the stage of producing an egg. This condition is known as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).

What is PCOS?

PCOS is due to a hormonal imbalance, especially a raised LH, with irregular or absent periods. 

Symptoms of PCOS

Symptoms of PCOS in women include irregular or no periods, often heavy and prolonged when they do arrive. The patient may be prone to being overweight, are often tired and may also complain of pelvic pain.

It can also cause increased hair growth on the face and body and inevitably – difficulty conceiving.

Management and treatment for PCOS

Treatment usually involves a practical diet and if you are trying to conceive, the use of drugs to correct the hormonal imbalance and to stimulate ovulation. If a woman is overweight then losing excess weight, exercising and changing to a low glycaemic diet may help to improve the hormone imbalance. Medication is used to increase sensitivity to insulin and the most widely used is Metformin. Alternatively, a laparoscopic polycystic ovarian drill, which involves putting a telescope into the tummy and inserting a needle into the ovary to disrupt it and trigger ovulation, may be performed.

Patients with PCOS are often successfully treated, though there can be the complication of either over or under stimulation of the ovaries, which has to be carefully managed by an experienced and reputable consultant.

Suspect you have PCOS?

If you suspect you may have PCOS and have been trying to conceive for 12 months (or 6 months if you are over 35 years of age) you should consider booking an appointment with a fertility specialist.

Find out more about female infertility >

Find out more about male infertility >

Find out more about fertility tests >