September is Dedicated to PCOS Awareness
Every September is a time to raise awareness around Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). In the United States, PCOS is one of the most common endocrine issues yet, so many don't even know they have it.
It's typically when one begins trying to conceive and has issues is PCOS looked at as a possible issue. In fact, PCOS makes up 25% of infertility cases.
At EggFund, we want to contribute to this critical conversation, so below, we'll walk you through the basics of PCOS and what you need to know.
What is PCOS?
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome impacts a woman's ovaries as it is a hormonal imbalance that prevents eggs from maturing fully. This, in turn, can stop you from ovulating, and when ovulation doesn't happen, the hormone progesterone doesn't happen. Without progesterone, a woman's menstrual cycle stops or is very irregular
Symptoms can vary, but if you're concerned you have PCOS, some factors to look for if you have:
Infrequent, missed, or irregular menstrual cycles
Excessive growth of hair on your face, chest, etc.
Male pattern baldness or thinning hair
Skin issues such as acne, oily skin, and dandruff
If you have difficulty losing weight or are overweight (Note: You CAN also be underweight and have PCOS)
Depression or anxiety
Insulin resistance/diabetic like symptoms
In general, while you may not have every single symptom above (including the "polycystic ovaries"), if you feel like you have enough to warrant concern, you should speak to your OB/GYN or Reproductive Endocrinologist.
Fertility Options for Those with PCOS
If your Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE) has diagnosed you with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, they might recommend additional tests to treat you best. But, overall, being aware of PCOS and receiving treatment can significantly help get the condition under control.
PCOS isn't something you can "cure," but treatment and management can help tremendously. Treatment for PCOS can involve correcting any ovulation issues and tackling metabolic problems, such as insulin resistance.
One thing commonly suggested for PCOS is maintaining a healthy weight, which can be easier said than done! The goal is to regulate your periods and keep blood glucose in a healthy range.
Another option some doctors recommend is using birth control pills to help regulate your menstrual cycles and provide protection from endometriosis in women with irregular periods associated with PCOS. But, of course, if you're actively trying to conceive, this may not be the best option.
Some other medications that may be discussed with you are Clomid, Letrozole, Metformin, and Gonadotropins. Also, if your doctor feels it can increase your chances of conception, options like IUI or IVF.
Covering Costs and Affording Medications
Even when there's a medical issue at play, insurances may not cover certain medications or procedures like in-vitro fertilization.
Some suggestions to try and attain coverage are speaking to your insurance company and seeing if there's a diagnostic code your fertility clinic should use that clarifies that fertility treatment is necessary due to your medical condition.
You can also speak with your RE about writing a note on your behalf to appeal any pushback from your provider.
If your insurance coverage is through your employer, you can speak to your Human Resources Department to ask them for assistance in expanding coverage if you feel comfortable. In addition, PCOS affects 5 to 13 % of women of reproductive age, so odds are others you work with that this could also help!
And, of course, if you're struggling to secure the finances you need, EggFund can help. Financing may be the best option that fits your budget and needs. If so, please click here to learn more.
We hope you'll join EggFund in spreading the word as it's possible you, or someone you may know may have PCOS.