POLYCYSTIC ovary syndrome affects one in five women and has an impact on how ovaries function – meaning sufferers can struggle to release an egg to be fertilised making it often extremely difficult to fall pregnant.
But what is the condition suffered by Danielle Lloyd and Nova Galaxia and can it actually lead to infertility?
What is polycystic ovary syndrome?
For many, the only hint of PCOS is irregular periods, while in more severe cases sufferers can be left with embarrassing hair growth on their faces, chest, back and backside.
The condition affects how a woman's ovaries function.
It occurs when the sacs the ovaries sit in are unable to release an egg, which means ovulation doesn't happen.
Medics don't yet know what causes polycystic ovary syndrome, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Can polycystic ovary syndrome lead to infertility?
In many cases polycystic ovary syndrome means a woman is unable to release an egg to be fertilised, and as a result her chances of becoming pregnant naturally are very small.
Most women discover they have the condition when they are trying for a baby because they have had several unsuccessful attempts.
During each menstrual cycle, the ovaries release an egg into the uterus via the fallopian tube.
This process is called ovulation and usually occurs once a month.
However, women with polycystic ovaries often fail to ovulate or ovulate infrequently, which means they have irregular or absent periods.
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What other symptoms are there for polycystic ovary syndrome?
According to the NHS, symptoms will often be experienced in early twenties or late teens.
However, in many cases doctors can struggle to diagnose the condition.
Symptoms can include:
- irregular periods, or no periods at all
- excess body hair, including facial hair
- difficulty getting pregnant
- weight gain
- oily skin or acne
- thinning hair or hair loss
Having polycystic ovaries also increases a woman's chance of developing type 2 diabetes, depression, high blood pressure and high cholesterol and sleep apnoea later in life, the NHS warned.
Having irregular periods can also increase a woman's risk of developing womb cancer.
One sufferer, Novia Galaxia has decided to stop shaving off her facial hair which has resulted from the condition.
What causes polycystic ovary syndrome?
Several factors are thought to play a role, including:
- excess insulin in the body – if you have too much insulin in your body it may increase your androgen (male hormones) production which could interfere with your ovaries ability to ovulate.
- low grade inflammation – some research has shown that women with the condition suffer from low grade inflammation, which can stimulate the ovaries to produce androgen.
- it's hereditary – the chances are that if your mother or sister suffers with polycystic ovaries then you will develop the condition too.
Is there a treatment for polycystic ovary syndrome?
The condition cannot be cured but the symptoms can be managed.
While the symptoms of polycystic ovaries are varied, so too are the treatment options.
Each treatment is designed to manage each individual's most common symptom, and include:
- weight loss – losing just five per cent of your body weight if you are overweight can significantly improve your symptoms, the NHS says.
- the Pill – the contraceptive pill can be used to keep your periods regular by maintaining a healthy hormone balance. It can also help protect against the possibility of developing womb cancer. It can also control excessive hair growth.
- medication – a drug called clomifene is usually the first treatment for women who are trying to get pregnant as it encourages the monthly release of an egg. If that does not work then metformin may be prescribed to lower blood sugar and control hormones.
- IVF – if a woman is struggling to conceive a course of IVF can boost the chances of becoming pregnant.
- surgery – a minor procedure called laparoscopic ovarian drilling can be used for fertility problems. During the surgery the doctor will destroy the tissue producing androgens that are causing infertility using heat or a laser.
Can polycystic ovary syndrome cause excess hair growth?
One of the symptoms is excessive hair growth, known as hirsutism.
This can appear on the face, back, chest or buttocks.
Many women don't show any symptoms at all and if they do they tend to be very mild.
We shared one pregnant woman’s incredible story, who was told by docs she’d never conceive naturally after being diagnosed with PCOS.
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