Infertility and PCOS: Exploring Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART)

Did you know? According to the World Health Organization, approximately 8-13% of women of reproductive age have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). It’s also estimated that up to 70% of women with PCOS are undiagnosed. 

One of the most challenging aspects of PCOS is difficulty conceiving due to various symptoms caused by the disorder. These symptoms include high levels of androgens, irregular menstrual cycles, and small cysts on the ovaries. Several treatment options are available to improve fertility in people with PCOS, including assisted reproduction technology (ART), such as in-vitro fertilization (IVF) and third-party reproduction.

Understanding the Impact of PCOS on Fertility

PCOS can significantly impact female fertility in several ways, including:

  • Having irregular or no ovulation
  • Developing insulin resistance from increased androgen levels, which disrupts ovulation and fertility
  • Developing an abnormal uterine lining, making it difficult for an embryo to implant
  • Gaining weight/obesity, worsening hormonal imbalances, further compromising fertility.

What is Assisted Reproduction Technology for PCOS?

Assisted reproduction technology (ART) refers to a wide spectrum of advanced medical procedures to help individuals and couples with infertility. This type of treatment is commonly used for people with PCOS when other fertility treatment methods have failed. Some of the more common procedures used to treat PCOS-related infertility include:

  • Intrauterine insemination (IUI): IUI involves depositing sperm directly into the uterus, thereby shortening the distance that the sperm must travel to meet the egg at the time of ovulation. For women with PCOS, IUI typically involves using medications to stimulate or regulate ovulation.
  • In vitro fertilization (IVF): IVF is often very effective for people with PCOS and involves retrieving the eggs from the ovaries, fertilizing the eggs in a lab, and then transferring the resulting embryos into the uterus. 
  • Assisted hatching: Assisted hatching may be used for people with PCOS and age-related infertility. This procedure involves creating a small opening in an embryo's outer shell (i.e., zona pellucida) to assist it in uterine implantation.
  • Egg donation: Egg donation, a type of third-party reproduction, may be used in those with PCOS who have repeatedly failed IVF procedures.
  • Surrogacy: In some people with PCOS, particularly those whose uteruses have been significantly affected, surrogacy is sometimes recommended. Surrogacy is a third-party reproduction procedure involving a person carrying a pregnancy to term after an IVF procedure.

Lifestyle Tips for Supporting Fertility 

Lifestyle and stress management tools are often recommended along with ART for people with PCOS, suggestions often include: 

  • Yoga, meditation, and/or other stress reduction and relaxation techniques
  • A healthy diet, rich in antioxidants and nutrients
  • Regular physical activity
  • If applicable, quitting smoking, drinking alcohol, or using other substances
  • Maintaining a healthy body weight
  • Avoiding toxins, pesticides, and other environmental toxins
  • Managing other medical conditions (e.g., thyroid disorders, endometriosis, or sexually transmitted infections)

Learn More About Third-Party Reproduction 

Fertility Source Companies is one of the country's largest egg donation and surrogacy agencies. If you have PCOS and your doctor has recommended third-party reproduction as part of your family planning journey, contact us today. We have a nationwide network of clinics with dedicated professionals ready to help you understand how surrogacy and egg donation work. Click on our locations page to find a Fertility Source Companies agency near you.