Many surrogates find themselves wondering why their intended mother needs their help. One potential cause stems from prolonged or advanced Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, PCOS for short.
This condition is actually quite common. Doctors estimate that as many as 10% of all American women in childbearing years suffer from the condition, and suggest that as many as half of those women may not even know they have it.
Women suffering with PCOS produce too much of a typically male hormone called Androgen. When it is too abundant, the Androgen prohibits the body from allowing a healthy egg to be released from the ovary into the fallopian tubes, sometimes leaving the woman unable to conceive a child. Instead, the immature eggs turn into small cysts, and are retained inside of the ovaries. These retained cysts will continue to contribute to steadily elevated levels of Androgen in the body, serving only to fuel the cycle of PCOS further.
PCOS is often characterized by missed or irregular periods, excess body hair, weight gain, and acne.
Given that these are symptoms that are incredibly common for most women, many don’t mention them to their doctors for many years. The diagnosis itself can often take quite a while to attain, given that PCOS is only diagnosed as an “exclusionary diagnosis”, meaning it is only diagnosed after every other possible diagnosis has been ruled out.
For women living with a PCOS diagnosis, the answers to their fertility can run the line from very hopeful to very grim. While some women may need minor hormone therapy to regulate their cycles and work to correct the abundance of Androgen, others may be left considering reproductive technologies and even surrogacy as the best way to create their families.