I was diagnosed with PCOS in 1987 at the age of nineteen. (The condition was then called
Stein-Levanthol Syndrome). At the time of my diagnosis there was no literature available
to the public. My doctor told me it was just a fertility issue. Now most
doctors agree it is an endocrine disorder that can lead to diabetes, heart disease, and
endometrial cancer as well as infertility. Because there was so little written material
available I began compiling a book to answer my own questions. I still get e-mails from
women desperate for answers. My goal is to inspire other women with PCOS to fight back
with lifestyle changes.
WHAT IS PCOS?
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is an endocrine disorder often resulting in multiple cysts on
the ovaries. Some of the symptoms are infertility, acne, excess hair growth, absence of
menstruation, weight gain (particularly in the belly area) and an overproduction of
insulin which can lead to other serious conditions such as insulin-resistance, diabetes,
heart disease and endometrial cancer. A conservative 5 to 10 percent of all women in the
United States suffer from PCOS.
HOW DOES PCOS AFFECT FERTILITY?
Many women with PCOS do not have regular periods. Multiple cysts on the ovaries can make
it difficult for the egg to be released normally. There have been reports of higher
incidences of miscarriages, (possibly due to improper hormone levels).
IS IT POSSIBLE TO GET PREGNANT WITH PCOS?
Most women with PCOS will need medical intervention in order to achieve pregnancy. For
some women, a daily regime of glucaphage (metformin) is enough. For other women,
additional measures such as fertility drugs (clomid, for example) or invitro fertilization
may be required. I am currently trying to achieve pregnancy myself. Im waiting for
my next period to start on the second round of clomid on an increased dosage. My husband
and I have already discussed the possibility of adoption if all of our efforts to get
pregnant fail. It is important to establish with your partner a timeline and range
of effort. Trying to get pregnant is stressful if everything goes the right way.
PCOS can add more stress and you may have to take additional drugs. For example, I had to
take progesterone before my first cycle of clomid because I had not had a period in four
I THINK I MAY HAVE PCOS. WHO DO I SEE?
PCOS has often been a misunderstood condition. Doctors often treated only the symptoms.
You will need to search for a reputable doctor who is familiar with the condition.
Endocrinologists are a good bet but you may need a referral from your primary health care
provider depending on your insurance. If you are trying to achieve pregnancy try to see a
reproductive endocrinologist. If your doctor dismisses your concerns or refuses to perform
hormonal tests, seek another physician. Also seek another doctor if your doctor seems to
have never heard of the condition or does not want to provide a referral.
You might want to take the quiz put together by the Polycystic Ovary Syndrome