Polycystic ovarian syndrome affects almost 25-30% of women who are experiencing fertility problems. This is the commonest cause of female infertility and it is also the one with the best chance of successful treatment. The symptoms may vary from extremely irregular cycles to almost completely absent cycles (Amenorrhoea). Some women have an excess of body hair, and although this is sighted as one of the most common symptoms of PCOS, it actually only occurs in 40% of cases. In addition to this, an excess of body weight and acne may also be attributed, but again not in all cases. I highlight all of these symptoms and stress that they are not always presents as this was not my experience.
I have personally suffered from PCOS and endometriosis for several years and my only symptoms were irregular cycles, from very frequent to infrequent, very painful periods, sporadic skin problems and problems with conception.
It is a very debilitating and stressful condition, particularly when you are trying to conceive and thus obviously trying to work out pattern of ovulation, which is impossible to predict with PCOS. Often, ovulation is completely knocked off anyway, and this can be upsetting, with every month that goes by, either no period or an early period can be nothing more than a constant reminder of what is.
PCOS may not be the actual cause of a problem with ovulation, a general dysfunction of the ovary may exist. Ovulation problems may also exist in women who have regular cycles.
Ovulation disorders can be classified into:
- Annovulation i.e. lack of ovulation
- Oligoovulation i.e. infrequent ovulation
- Luteal phase defects
- Dysfunction of the ovary may occur for several reasons
- Below is a list of some of the most common causes of secondary dysfunction of the ovary
- Severe stress
- Recent great gain or loss of weight
- Certain drugs
- Tumor (growth)
- Excess production of the hormone prolactin
- Disturbances involving the thyroid gland and the adrenal glands
- A genetic abnormality
- Luteal phase defect
This is defined as either a defect of progesterone secretion by the corpus luteum or a defect in the lining
of the womb response to hormonal stimulation. This results in an inadequate lining of the womb for embryo implantation.
It is estimated that luteal phase defects affects 3-20% of infertile couples.