Women on the Choice Mom discussion board are talking to each other this week about dealing with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). About 1 in 10 women find out eventually, often when they are unsuccessfully trying to conceive, that they suffer from PCOS, which is largely a hormonal imbalance.
To offer more insight for PCOS sufferers in the Choice Mom community, I’m offering brief summaries here of some of the latest findings presented at the recent annual meeting of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM). Note that I am compiling these as a journalist; I’ve never been trained in medicine. I welcome members of our Choice Mom community who can shed additional light on the nuances of this research to share their comments in the field below.
There were dozens of research papers presented at the 2010 ASRM conference (reproductive medicine) about PCOS. Here are samples of some of the most recent findings:
- A group of 1,555 PCOS sufferers completed a questionnaire. These women reported that it generally took an average of 31.3 months to receive a PCOS diagnosis, and they sometimes saw as many as four doctors. What this tells me is that more women need to be aware of what PCOS is so they can have more informed conversations with the right multidisciplinary team of healthcare providers and get a diagnosis sooner.
- A group of 121 PCOS sufferers were compared to 1,383 other women seeing assisted reproductive technology (ART) care, by researchers at the National Institutes of Health and Shady Grove Fertility in Maryland. Adjusting for age, BMI and multiples, the association between PCOS and pregnancy loss was found in this study to be statistically significant. A woman suffering from PCOS should be aware that her risk for pregnancy loss is higher than that of a woman not suffering from PCOS, based on this single study.
- A second study with a team of researchers from the University of Illinois College of Medicine and University of Chicago examined randomized controlled trails. Of 495 women with PCOS using a variety of treatment protocols, the miscarriage rate was 24.6%. Of 186 women with unexplained fertility, the miscarriage rate was 19.9%. Of 328 women in the general reproductive population, 11.3% experienced pregnancy loss. The study did not indicate age ranges for these women.
- A team in the Netherlands wanted to determine the rate of pregnancy risk for women with PCOS. Of 497 women with PCOS, 444 tried to conceive and 382 of them got pregnant at least once. There were 554 singleton pregnancies; 518 singleton pregnancies were included in the analysis and compared with 2,980 pregnancies in controls. Women with PCOS had a higher incidence of gestational diabetes, hypertension and pre-eclampsia.
If you would like to learn more about PCOS, check out this Q&A, including lifestyle habits that can improve your chances of healthy pregnancy, from Choice Mom-friendly clinic Laurel Fertility Care, written specially for ChoiceMoms.org. We also received these tips for weight loss for PCOS sufferers from a registered nurse.
Choice Mom Jen has suggested the PCOS Challenge website as a great place to find discussion boards on every topic of interest to PCOS sufferers. See her story here, and feel free to share your own in Comments.
The American Fertility Association also has an excellent video explanation of PCOS, accessible here.