A common condition that affects one in ten women of child-bearing age and can lead to difficulties falling pregnant - polycystic ovary syndrome - is under the spotlight this month with fertility experts in the South West and Wales taking part in PCOS Awareness Month throughout September in a bid to increase understanding of the condition.
Oli O’Donovan, consultant gynaecologist with Bristol Centre for Reproductive Medicine (BCRM), said: “PCOS is a common hormonal condition that affects a woman’s ovaries and how they work, but it’s poorly understood and is a difficult disease to diagnose.
“Many women have the condition without realising, but some women have difficulty falling pregnant and there is an increased risk of health problems later in life. It can take a long time to get diagnosed through the usual channels.
“If a woman wants a baby and is not falling pregnant naturally, investigating whether she may have PCOS is always one of the first things we consider.
“When a woman is affected it means that tiny cysts develop around the edges of her ovaries, and we can see these on an ultrasound scan at the clinic.
“While the cysts are harmless in themselves the condition can prevent the normal monthly release of eggs, meaning fertilisation is impossible. A third of sufferers do not have regular periods.
“PCOS can affect any woman but is more likely to affect those who have a family history with the condition, or who are very overweight.
“The weight situation is a bit of a vicious circle, because if you have the hormone imbalance that causes PCOS you may find it hard to keep you weight healthy.
“However, if excessive weight is at the root of the problem, the good news is that a loss of just 5%, plus sticking to a healthy low-carb diet and moderate exercise, can sometimes be all that is needed to restart regular periods and allow a woman to be come pregnant naturally.”
An acknowledged expert in fertility diagnosis including ultrasound, Oli O’Donovan is available to provide consultations in person or via telephone or video link. For further information about the fertility services offered at BCRM go to www.fertilitybristol.com , email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0117 4146888.