Ovulation is a key step in getting pregnant, so anything that interferes with this process will make pregnancy difficult, or even impossible if ovulation does not occur all together. Anovulation means the complete absence of ovulation, while oligoovulation means irregular ovulation.
In addition to estrogen and progesterone, women also produce hormones called androgens. Testosterone, the primary male hormone, is one type of androgen. Androgens are elevated in women with polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, leading to irregular ovulation and symptoms like acne, obesity, abnormal hair growth on your face or chest (hirsutism), or even male pattern baldness.
A medication called Metformin is often used to treat PCOS. While Metformin is not approved for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a treatment for PCOS, it is thought to help correct the insulin resistance that many women with PCOS have. Many patients taking Metformin have reported that their menstrual cycles resume and they find a reduction in the severity of their symptoms.
While PCOS certainly affects your fertility and appearance, it also affects your body in a number of other ways. It is thought to decrease your body's response to insulin, which eventually leads to insulin resistance and diabetes. Additionally, women with PCOS are at greater risk for health problems like heart disease, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.
Luckily, PCOS-related infertility is usually quite easy to treat. Medications like Clomid and forms of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) are given to induce ovulation.
Premature Ovarian Failure
Another name for menopause is ovarian failure. Most women go through menopause in their forties or fifties, but sometimes women will start experiencing ovarian failure when they are significantly younger, even in their twenties or thirties. Symptoms include irregular menstrual cycles, changes in libido, vaginal dryness, and hot flashes.
Ovarian failure means that the number and quality of your eggs has decreased. This often comes as a surprise to young women who may not realize that they could be going through menopause at such a young age, especially since the cause of premature menopause is unknown. If you are diagnosed early enough, there may be enough time to try aggressive ovulation induction to help you achieve pregnancy with as little intervention as possible.
Women with premature ovarian failure typically do not respond well to the medication, including the high doses required during IVF treatment. If the ovarian failure has progressed to this point, your doctor may recommend that you use donated eggs.
Cancer treatments, like chemotherapy and radiation therapy, can also cause premature ovarian failure. If you have been diagnosed with cancer, it is important to discuss fertility preservation with your oncologist as soon as possible. There may be ways to preserve some level of fertility, or you may be able to freeze some eggs for use after treatment.