PCOS & Infertility Treatments

Researchers spent two years following adolescent girls diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and made some exciting discoveries that could impact the future of how this fertility-limiting disease is treated.

PCOS is characterized by an overproduction of the hormone androgen in the body. The result is an excess of mid-section fat, unwanted body hair in inappropriate places, and, most notably, failure to ovulate. Women with PCOS will still produce follicles on their ovaries, but their bodies will never release the matured egg into the fallopian tube for fertilization. When the follicle doesn’t release the egg, it turns into a cyst that goes on to produce additional androgen, making it increasingly less likely that the patient will be able to ovulate as time goes on.

An incredibly common affliction of American women, some doctors estimate up to 10% of all American women suffer from PCOS. Doctors estimate that as many as 50% of women who have PCOS may not even know they have it. PCOS is purportedly the most common cause of female infertility in the USA today.

Researchers in Barcelona decided to study the disease in adolescent females who were not yet sexually active. They created two groups for study; an active group and a control group. They randomized the patients and offered the active group a new treatment aimed at reducing abdominal, liver, and visceral fats in an effort to restore regular ovulation. This medication was offered in conjunction with an oral contraceptive, a known treatment method that has shown promise in regulating androgen. Members of the control group were given just the oral contraceptive.

Participants were advised to follow a regular, normal exercise routine and consume a Mediterranean diet.

Recipients were monitored for 12 months as they followed medical protocol, and then for an additional 12 months following the treatment. Researchers found that those taking the new medication, called SPIOMET, were able to normalize more fat reserves than those on the oral contraceptive alone. In addition, those on the medication also returned to a more normalized ovulation schedule and noted higher indicators for cardiovascular health as well.

Compared against the control group, those on the new drug yielded a 2.5x higher rate of ovulation and a 6x higher rate of normalized ovulation. Impressively, their likelihood of having irregular ovulation dropped by 65%! The best results were seen in the participants who lost the highest amounts of fat.

Results from the study were presented at the 2017 Endocrine Society meeting in Orlando, Florida. For the time being, the drug has only been tested on adolescent females. However, with more research, there is hope that this drug, or others like it, may be able to offer hope to adult women with PCOS who are trying to become pregnant as well.

Dr. Kim Bergman

Kim Bergman, PhD, a licensed psychologist of 26 years, has specialized in the area of gay and lesbian parenting, parenting by choice and third party assisted reproduction for over two decades. Dr. Bergman has created a comprehensive psychological screening, support and monitoring process for Intended Parents, Surrogates and Donors. She is the co-owner of Fertility Counseling Services and Growing Generations and is a member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the American Psychological Association, the Los Angeles County Psychological Association, the Lesbian and Gay Psychotherapy Association, and the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association. She is on the national Emeritus board of the Family Equality Council. Dr. Bergman writes, teaches and speaks extensively on parenting by choice. Along with co-authors, she published “Gay Men Who Become Fathers via Surrogacy: The Transition to Parenthood” (Journal of GLBT Family Studies, April 2010). Dr. Bergman’s is the author of the upcoming book, Your Future Family: An Essential Guide to Assisted Reproduction (Red Wheel Press 2019). Dr. Bergman created her own family using third party assisted reproduction and she lives with her wife of 35 years. Her two daughters are in college.