Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a common female hormone imbalance that may affect a woman’s menstrual cycle, fertility, cardiovascular system and physical appearance. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, roughly one in 20 women in their childbearing years will be affected by PCOS. The term describes the appearance of the ovaries on an ultrasound scan; there may be 12 or more follicles on the ovaries, ranging in size from 2 mm to 9 mm. This imbalance in hormone production means that egg ovulation may occur irregularly or not at all, making it difficult to get pregnant naturally.


What are the symptoms of PCOS?

  • Irregular or no periods
  • Difficulty becoming pregnant
  • Being overweight or rapid increase in weight
  • Having more facial or body hair than usual
  • Patches of skin that are thick and dark brown
  • Skin tags (excess flaps of skin around the neck and in the armpits)
  • Loss of hair on the head
  • Oily skin or acne
  • Depression and mood swings
  • Pelvic pain
  • Sleep apnea (interrupted breathing while sleeping)

What causes PCOS?

The cause of PCOS is not yet fully known; however, it may have a genetic basis as it oftentimes runs in families. If any of your female relatives (mother, aunts, sisters) are affected by PCOS, your risk of developing PCOS may be higher.

How may PCOS affect my fertility?

Anovulation: Some women with PCOS may get pregnant on their own. In many cases, PCOS affects a woman’s fertility by causing irregular periods or no periods at all. During a normal menstrual cycle, 1-2 follicles in the ovaries mature and are released in a process called ovulation. PCOS may prevent ovulation, thus prohibiting follicles from maturing regularly in a cycle.

Excessive weight gain: One common symptom of PCOS is excessive weight gain. This additional weight further decreases the chance of ovulation and can also make women more resistant to simple ovulation-inducing drugs.

How do I know if I have PCOS?

Those with PCOS meet two out of the three following criteria: Oligomenorrhea (having your menses every 40 to 60 days), androgen excess (by a blood test or physical appearance, such as acne or oily skin), and more than 12 follicles appearing on your ovaries by ultrasound.  

How can IVF Michigan Fertility Center help me if I have PCOS?

IVF Michigan Fertility Center has expertise in helping women with PCOS reduce symptoms and conceive. To discuss your symptoms and medical history, contact IVF Michigan Fertility Center today.