I have always known I wanted to be a mother. A short while ago, I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and was told that it would be nearly impossible for me to become pregnant without medical intervention. I remember hearing my doctor’s words and feeling my blood turn cold.
Each word was erasing the family picture I had painted for myself. I was about to marry the man of my dreams and could not bear the thought of telling him that our plans to start a family might need reconsideration. I returned home with a few pamphlets and an overwhelming amount of hopelessness and fear.
After my diagnosis, I spent a few weeks in a combination of shock and denial before deciding that I'd learn as much as possible about PCOS, why I had found myself as one of the estimated five million American women struggling with the symptoms of this condition, and what I could do to improve my changes of conceiving naturally.
What I know today is that PCOS is the most common source of infertility in women. The cause is unknown, but there appears to be a genetic component to the condition. If you have a mother or sister who has/had PCOS, you'll likely be at a higher risk.
Fundamentally, PCOS results from a hormonal imbalance. The ovaries produce abnormally high concentrations of androgens, or male hormones, such as testosterone. (Women typically produce androgens, but in relatively small amounts.) Elevated levels of androgens in women interfere with the development of eggs and can cause irregular ovulation or, in cases such as my own, prevent ovulation all together.
Symptoms of PCOS include: