Polycystic ovaries (many small follicles in the ovaries) are not uncommon and generally do not cause any unwanted symptoms in women – in fact, most would not even realise they have polycystic ovaries. However polycystic ovary syndrome can cause a range of health issues such as weight gain, insulin imbalance, irregular or absent periods, acne, excessive hair growth – and infertility. Some women with PCOS seem to be able to conceive regardless, but it is more common to need help than not.
Diagnosis: Ultrasound to detect the follicles and blood tests to ascertain hormone and insulin levels.
Treatment: For women who aren’t trying to conceive, the most effective treatment for PCOS is the contraceptive pill. It regulates periods, keeps the ovaries settled and also reduces the hormonal effects of PCOS like excessive hair growth and acne.
For women with fertility issues, there are several treatment options available. These include things like Clomid or Letrozole, FSH injections to induce ovulation, ovarian drilling to try to induce natural ovulation or IVF. One thing to bear in mind with IVF is that women with PCOS are at greater risk of OHSS (ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome) so will need close monitoring.