70 per cent of women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) don’t know they have the condition – according to research by Verity, the UK PCOS charity – but left undiagnosed and unmanaged it can impact fertility and increase the risk of diabetes and other metabolic conditions.
PCOS and Fertility
Verity is launching PCOS Awareness Month in September to create awareness of the condition, which disrupts the hormone balance in a woman’s body impacting mood and making it difficult to maintain a healthy weight (Body Mass Index). In support, Bourn Hall is hosting a free webinar “PCOS and Fertility” on 15th September 2020 to give practical advice on how women with PCOS can improve their chances of conceiving.
Dr Ray says: “A healthy Body Mass Index (BMI) of between 18.5 and 24.9 increases the chances of pregnancy, but this can be difficult to achieve by women with PCOS. Supporting these patients and their partners with a rapid diagnosis and the right information about nutrition and lifestyle can take them closer to achieving their dream. Seeking advice while they are younger and more fertile gives greater options for treatment.”
The cause of PCOS is unknown but there is some evidence, published in Nature, that it could be triggered in the womb before birth, as too much of the anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH) in the mother’s blood can cause a female foetus to produce too much testosterone.
In adulthood the symptoms of PCOS can include acne, excess hair on the face and body and heavy or irregular periods. PCOS can also increase the risk of insulin resistance, which is associated with diabetes.PCOS
PCOS is diagnosed by Bourn Hall with a questionnaire about medical history and lifestyle, scanning the ovaries to look for raised follicles and by using blood tests, which look at the ratio between the fertility hormones. This diagnosis can be achieved quickly and is free for NHS patients referred by their GP or available for a small fee for those without a referral.
Bourn Hall encourages its patients to get fit for fertility and works closely with nutritionists and other complementary therapists. If specialist fertility treatment, such as IVF, is required the woman’s BMI needs to be 30 or less to be eligible for NHS funding.
Support for those with PCOS
Nutritionist Angela Attwood sees many women with PCOS and she is taking part in the webinar: “The women I see are often feeling very down and upset about their weight. Diet can help to balance the blood sugar level and this can have a huge effect on their hormones, how they feel and their energy levels. It is not just about reducing portion size, but also changing what you eat and when you eat it. These become habits that can have lasting health benefits.”
 Elevated prenatal anti-Müllerian hormone reprograms the fetus and induces polycystic ovary syndrome in adulthood. Nature Medicine | VOL 24 | JUNE 2018 | 834–846