Monday, May 20, 2013

Ovulation and PCOS

I've decided to try and explain why ovulation is so hard to detect for women who have PCOS and use ovulation predictor kits to determine ovulation. I have gotten some questions about my testing habits and I do want to say that I normally only test once a day, but I had purchased a month supply of OPKs that needed to be used within 30 days, so I tested a couple times a day for a while. Typically I test once, in the afternoon, with several different brands. I only do that because I am obsessed and I don't trust any one brand.

Anyway, PCOS and OPKs; here's a short break down:

PCOS, or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, is one of the leading causes of infertility in women. Approximately 5%-10% of women of childbearing age have PCOS. Most women with PCOS don’t even know that they have it. In fact, less than 50% of women with PCOS have actually been diagnosed. 85% of women who suffer from PCOS suffer from infertility as well. Most women do not get a diagnosis until they begin trying to get pregnant. Some of the symptoms of PCOS may be overlooked until a woman starts trying to conceive a baby. Symptoms include, but are not limited to: unwated hair growth, fine or thin scalp hair, obesity, skin tags and missing periods.

PCOS is a medical condition that affects women’s menstrual cycles, fertility, hormone levels, and physical appearance. Women with PCOS produce high levels of insulin and higher levels of male hormones or androgens.

During the first half of a normal menstrual cycle, several follicles will develop. Each follicle contains an egg. As the menstrual cycle continues, only one follicle will remain. This follicle will produce the egg during ovulation. Once the egg has matured, LH levels will surge causing the egg to burst from the follicle. This is when ovulation occurs. However, the excess male hormones produced with PCOS affect the production of female hormones necessary for ovulation. A woman with PCOS does not produce enough hormones to cause any of the follicles to mature. They may grow and collect fluid but none become large enough for ovulation. If ovulation does not occur, progesterone will not rise.
 
Because hormone levels are affected with PCOS, predicting ovulation can be difficult. Some women with PCOS; including myself, usually have an anovulatory BBT chart. If we do ovulate, it may be very difficult to interpret the BBT chart. PCOS may also affect the results of ovulation prediction kits. OPKs work by detecting LH surges. Some women with PCOS have elevated LH hormones making it difficult to use an ovulation prediction kit. OPKs actually warn consumers on the box that the reliability of the test my be compromised if you suffer from PCOS, or use fertility medications.

29 comments:

  1. Great post! Awareness is knowledge.

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  2. Replies
    1. Thanks! i didn't want it to sound like a research paper... LOL!

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  3. This was some great information. And also a bit frustrating. At least you are being proactive with it, and educating others in the process!

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  4. Great post! Thanks for sharing!

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  5. Very informative. Your testing regimen sounds... expensive... Best of luck to you!!!

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  6. Hi from ICLW...I have PCOS as well and it affects everyone very differently I do not suffer from IR but I do many other side effects. I can use opk's but only because my LH is not high all the time.

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    1. Hello and welcome!

      You are very correct. Not everyone with PCOS have the same symptoms. Some women are in fact very slender- I am not that lucky. There have been many times woman have also been misdiagnosed with PCOS. Cystic ovaries don't always mean PCOS. It can be confusing.

      Lucky duck for being able to use OPKs with reliability!

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  7. Interesting - I have mild PCOS, and have no idea that OPK's may not work for me. Something to keep in mind for future.

    Jo (From ICLW)

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    1. Hi Jo, welcome!

      I recommended First Response OPKs. A little more expensive, but I have the best luck reading those. Digitals are good too, but I only use them to double check the lines. I also hear the Clear Blue Monitor will not work for PCOSers very well...

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  8. When my doctor "diagnosed" me with PCOS last summer, he did a piss poor job of explaining what the hell is actually was. I sort of had to rely on Google and WebMD to sort of piece together what was happening in my body. I think i've done a pretty good job of learning all i can about what endometriosis is, because i've got that too, but I've always been a little in the dark about PCOS. So thank you, for this. Thank you for your description, and thank you for shining light on what this does to OPK's!! I really appreciate you! Happy ICLW! =)

    -Jenn

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    1. Hi Jenn!

      I am so glad this proved helpful for you! PCOS is such a complicated disorder! I cna't imagine having it AND Endo! YIKES!!!

      If you need anything else, just asked! I am happy to help!

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  9. Awesome post! I'm thankful that I've only had a few anovulatory cycles, and once my Metformin kicked in, ovulation was easier to chart. When I first started charting and using OPKs, my doctor never said anything about them potentially not working. It's thanks to awesome women like who that I learned that OPKs don't work for everyone.

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    1. I wish I could have a normal cycle on my own. I am CD 25 and no signs of "O" yet. I was told that OPKs will be difficult to read, but that the slightest change in color could be considered a +. I am not sure that is true. I beleive that is NOT true. Hope you get that BFP soon!!

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  10. Such good information. You are such a great person for sharing all this information. I especially love the image at the end. Even though PCOS causes such havoc in ttc, I think it's even more important to keep in mind it can be life threatening if untreated.

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    1. Indeed! This baby that I am so desperately seeking saved my life. If I would have never tried to get preggo- I would have never known I had PCOS! What a gift that child gave me... my health!

      PCOS is so much more that infertility.

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  11. I am so glad I stumbled on your blog today. I have recently been diagnosed with PCOS and am beyond obsessed with TTC. I ask my doctor and her nurse a zillion questions every time I go in or call (which, since I'm obsessed, is frequent) but your site really helped me understand PCOS even more. It's good to know that I'm not alone in the world...

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    1. You are not alone. There are many of us! Feel free to ask any question! I will be happy to help you locate the answers! I still call with millions of questions... I pay them good money to help me get answers! Thankfully, my clinic is super great and are always willing to help- even during "rest" cycles!

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