Causes of PCOS and three factors that play a role in infertility
Polycystic ovary syndrome is a common hormone disorder in which the ovaries can become enlarged with fluid-filled follicles that don’t release eggs. Because many women with the condition have irregular periods and don’t ovulate normally, PCOS is a common cause of infertility.
About 5% to 10% of women in their reproductive years have PCOS. While researchers have not yet pinpointed the exact causes of PCOS, many believe that several factors contribute to the development of the syndrome. At our New York PCOS clinic, we specialize in helping women mitigate the symptoms by identifying the contributing causes.
Scientists have documented three primary factors that are associated with PCOS.
Heredity – Unfortunately, PCOS is a problem that can be passed down from mothers to daughters. If your mom or sister has PCOS, you may be at greater risk for developing it, too. While the genetic link to PCOS is yet unproven, scientists are busy doing research to find it.
Excess insulin – Your pancreas produces insulin, a hormone that helps the cells in your body use glucose, or sugar, for energy. In women who are insulin-resistant, the pancreas makes more insulin than normal to try to boost the amount of energy in your cells. High levels of insulin can have a negative impact on your ovaries, as this can increase production of androgens. Higher-than-normal levels of these male hormones can, in turn, inhibit ovulation.
Low-grade inflammation – When your body gets an infection, you get inflammation. It is a natural response when your white blood cells release substances to fight the invading organisms. Studies have proven that women who have PCOS live with low-grade, ongoing inflammation – and that it causes their ovaries to produce ovulation-inhibiting androgens.
Obesity is also very common in women with PCOS, affecting roughly half of patients diagnosed with the disorder. While science has not identified obesity as one of the causes of PCOS, it can make PCOS symptoms worse. Unfortunately, the hormonal imbalances that are common with PCOS can also contribute to obesity.
Our PCOS clinic nutritionist can help support your efforts to manage your weight. Even a 10% loss can dramatically improve your health and fertility!
We can help
If you think that you may have PCOS and are struggling with infertility or simply wish to mitigate your symptoms, take heart: Our New York fertility center offers several treatments that may improve your chances of having a baby and overall quality of life. To learn more about the causes of PCOS – and how to treat it – contact us today.