PCOS Impacts 20 Million Women

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the number one cause of infertility in women. Approximately 1 in 10 reproductive-age women meet the criteria for diagnosis; however, only half of all women with PCOS have been diagnosed. PCOS can cause a delay in time to pregnancy, but, understanding this diagnosis can help women map out a potential course for future family building. Early identification can end a lot of mystery and help women begin to better understand their fertility and allow them to take control of timing of their family – one of these ways is by freezing eggs.

Many women living with PCOS may wonder why their period cycles are irregular and they have excess acne or hair growth. The irregularity of ovulation cycles makes conceiving naturally exponentially more difficult and these symptoms are the result of hormonal imbalances that can be identified and treated to help a couple conceive. While it’s important to note that not all women with PCOS have these symptoms, once a diagnosis is made, exercise, diet, and medication, such as clomiphene citrate (Clomid) can often help induce ovulation. However, even when a diagnosis is made, some women are not ready to conceive.

The good news is, women with PCOS produce a high number of healthy eggs. But, as with all women, with age comes a decrease in egg quality and quantity. Therefore, like all women, timing of building a family is important and delay in time to pregnancy because of PCOS can interfere with future family plans. One way women with PCOS can take control and simplify this process is by freezing eggs.

PCOS and Egg Freezing: The Benefit of Oocyte Cryopreservation

For women with PCOS, freezing eggs at a younger age, when the eggs are estimated to be better quality and at a higher quantity, can be an excellent option for future family building. The large number of eggs expected to be retrieved in a single cycle often makes egg freezing very cost effective for patients with PCOS who freeze eggs sooner than later.

For women who are considering egg freezing, the average number of eggs that we recommend to freeze to give them the best chance of taking a baby home later are 15 to 20 for women who are 37 and younger, or 20 to 30, for women who are 38 and older, or any woman with a lower ovarian reserve. Typically, a woman who is 37 or younger will reach the desired number of eggs after two egg freezing cycles. Because women with PCOS typically have more eggs, it is likely that they will require fewer cycles to achieve the desired number of eggs.

Egg Freezing: A Reliable Option

Given the range of advanced reproductive treatment options available, women with PCOS certainly have the ability to get pregnant. The “insurance policy” that egg freezing offers, however, can reduce the time spent undergoing treatment. Once you’re ready to begin your family, you can return to Shady Grove Fertility and use sperm (either from your partner or a donor) to fertilize your frozen egg(s).

As egg freezing technology has become more refined over the last several years, women seeking to preserve their fertility—for a variety of reasons, including PCOS—can find some peace of mind knowing they’ve made a wise, proactive step to safeguard their future family building options.

Editors Note: This post has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness as of September 2019.

Medical contribution by Brianna Schumacher, M.D.

Brianna Schumacher, M.D., is board certified in obstetrics and gynecology and reproductive endocrinology and infertility. Dr. Schumacher is an advocate for early fertility diagnosis and treatment, as well as egg freezing for women to preserve their fertility for future family building options. She sees patients in SGF’s Philadelphia and Chesterbrook, Pennsylvania, offices.