Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a disorder characterized by an imbalance in the levels of certain hormones present in the body. It is a common condition seen in 5-10% of women of childbearing age. The exact cause of this disorder remains unknown. However, it’s thought to be related to a combination of factors, including genetics and the environment (such as diet).
Changes in the levels of hormones can disrupt the normal reproductive cycle of a woman. PCOS is diagnosed if you have any two of the following:
- Irregular or infrequent periods
- Elevated androgen hormone levels, which can cause acne, male-pattern hair growth and hair thinning, especially in the front of the scalp
- Formation of multiple follicles that do not release mature eggs (ovulation). This lowers the chances of pregnancy and is associated with fertility troubles.
There is no cure for PCOS; only treatment to manage symptoms. These may include lifestyle modifications with diet and exercise (as obesity can worsen symptoms), and oral birth control pills to maintain the normal hormone levels and regulate menstrual cycles.
PCOS-associated infertility can be treated with ovulation induction, where the follicles are stimulated with medication to release the eggs. Clomid or clomiphene citrate is a drug given to induce ovulation.
Clomid is given in the oral form, one pill a day (commonly starting at 50 mg), from the fifth day of your menstrual cycle to the ninth day. Around 80% of PCOS women have been found to respond well to Clomid, of which, 30% to 40% have been able to conceive. Non-response to the drug may require a higher dose or a change in medication. As with most medication, Clomid may be associated with certain risks and complications such as increased chances of multiple pregnancies, most common being twins.