How PCOS Can Affect Your Fertility, Your Appearance, and Your Health

How PCOS Can Affect Your Fertility, Your Appearance, and Your Health

Polycystic ovary syndrome affects about 10% of women of childbearing age and can cast a wide net over a woman’s life. From acne and hair loss to the inability to get pregnant, here are some key side effects.

Polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, is not only common — the condition affects about one in 10 women between the ages of 15 and 44 — it casts a wide net, inside and out. From hair loss to the inability to have children, PCOS can impact a number of different areas of your overall health and wellness.

To give you a better idea of just how large the PCOS net can be, the team here at Bay Area Physicians for Women’s Health gathered a few of the more common side effects of this reproductive issue. Let’s take a look.

A hormone issue

The reason why PCOS can have such a widespread impact is that, at its core, it’s a hormonal issue. More specifically, with PCOS, your reproductive hormone levels are out of balance and there are more androgens in your system, which are hormones associated with male characteristics.

PCOS, your ovaries, and your fertility

Since your ovaries are producing more androgen hormones, this can have no small effect on your ovulation and your menstrual cycles, which rely more on female reproductive hormones. Women with PCOS often have irregular periods, which includes missed periods.

When it comes to ovulation, you might have immature eggs that don’t release properly from the follicles on your ovaries, which leads to cysts. Hence the reference to polycystic in PCOS, which means “many cysts.” It should be noted, however, that not every woman with PCOS develops ovarian cysts.

Cysts or not, PCOS is one of the leading drivers of infertility in women.

PCOS and your appearance

The increase in androgens in your system that’s the hallmark of PCOS can lead to more outward symptoms, such as:

  • Acne
  • Hair loss on the scalp
  • Increase in body hair
  • More facial hair
  • Skin tags — often under your arms
  • Dark skin patches — often under your breasts or in your groin

It’s also worth noting that up to 80% of women with PCOS are overweight or have obesity, but this connection may work the other way — the obesity led to PCOS.

Undoing the side effects of PCOS

If you suspect that you might have PCOS, it’s time to come see us. We can review your symptoms and run a blood test to check your reproductive hormone levels. If we find that you have higher-than-normal levels of androgens, we can take several steps to restore balance.

For our part, we can prescribe hormone medications that promote better balance. You can contribute greatly to your PCOS treatment by:

  • Losing weight, if applicable
  • Exercising more
  • Cutting out fat and sugar as much as possible

We can also help you with more targeted treatment plans that address unique symptoms, such as fertility or body hair growth.

For expert diagnosis and treatment of your PCOS, please contact our office in Mobile, Alabama, to set up an appointment.