Ask the Nurse

My daughter was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome. Does this mean she won’t be able to have children?

Women with polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, have a hormonal imbalance that interferes with normal reproductive processes. It usually starts at puberty and is associated with irregular periods and other hormone-related symptoms.

PCOS is the most common cause of female infertility because of the body’s failure to ovulate. The ovaries, where a woman’s eggs are produced, have tiny fluid-filled sacs called follicles or cysts. As the egg grows, the follicle builds up fluid. When the egg matures, the follicle breaks open, the egg is released, and the egg travels through the fallopian tube to the uterus (womb) for fertilization.

In women with PCOS, the ovary doesn’t make all of the hormones it needs for an egg to fully mature. Instead, some follicles may remain as cysts. Consequently, ovulation does not occur and the hormone progesterone is not made.

However, a diagnosis of PCOS doesn’t mean that a woman will never be able to conceive a child. Oral and injected fertility drugs often are effective in women with this disorder. It’s important for women with PCOS to discuss health concerns during their annual gynecology visits. The physician can address them to ensure that the disorder is managed effectively.

All My Best,
Speaking of Women's Health Nurse

September 5, 2011 at 11:44am