Polycystic ovarian syndrome presents itself as a spectrum of symptoms that varies from woman to woman, making it tough to diagnose. Since PCOS is a syndrome and not a specific disease, there's a complex set of symptoms that make it difficult to create a specific set of criteria physicians can check off to definitely diagnose you.
What is common with all women who have PCOS symptoms is that their endocrine system doesn't work as it should. Since pregnancy relies on hormonal balance for ovulation to occur, PCOS can make it exceedingly difficult for pregnancy to occur naturally.
PCOS Symptoms and Ovulation
If your ovaries don't release a mature egg, then you're not ovulating. This is called anovulation. You cannot get pregnant if you don't ovulate. Sometimes you will still bleed like you're on your period, but often you will not. This is why many women with PCOS can go months without menstruating. Other times, you may find yourself bleeding heavily. Along with irregular periods, you may have:
- Ovarian cysts and pelvic pain
- Hormonal imbalance caused by excess androgen
- Excess body hair (hirsutism) and acne
- Infertility due to hormonal imbalance
- Insulin resistance
- Thinning hair, bald spots
- Metabolic syndrome
You don't have to be obese to have PCOS. You don't have to have ovarian cysts. PCOS tends to have a gradual onset; so many women have no idea they have PCOS until they see a fertility specialist when they can't get pregnant.
PCOS and Ovulation Test Kits
If you have PCOS and need to pinpoint when you should be ovulating, you can buy ovulation prediction kits over-the-counter. These kits work much like pregnancy tests. You simply hold the test strip in your urine stream. It measures the amount of luteinizing hormone (LH) in your body. As LH increases, the hormone signals to your ovaries to release an egg. If your LH tests high, you have a higher probability of ovulation within a few hours.
Conceiving a child is not easy in the best of times. Trying to conceive when you have PCOS can cause undue stress which in turn can create anxiety. This anxiety can make it difficult not only to conceive, but to carry a pregnancy through three trimesters. Find yourself a doctor who understands PCOS. And look for a gynecologist near you. Talk about your plan of treatment so that you can be in the best possible health before you conceive and during pregnancy. Some of these goals for your plan of treatment may include decreasing your excess androgens, losing weight, and improving ovulation and its frequency.