Building Awareness of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome During PCOS Awareness Month

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In honor of National PCOS Awareness Month this September, Fertility Centers of Illinois seeks to educate women on PCOS to boost health and conception.

Dr. Laurence Jacobs

By changing lifestyle habits and making small changes to diet and exercise, women with polycystic ovarian syndrome can not only feel better, they can improve chances of conception by 10 percent.

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder that affects as many as 5 million women in the United States. Estimated to affect one in 10 women of childbearing age, a PCOS diagnosis is also strongly linked to obesity and diabetes, and is one of the leading causes of infertility.

PCOS is defined as the presence of cysts on the ovaries combined with the absence of ovulation. The cysts can disturb hormone cycles, causing ovulation problems and resulting in female infertility. Statistical data shows that Hispanic and Latina women appear to have a higher risk of being diagnosed with PCOS.

While the cause of PCOS is unknown, several factors place women at risk. Diagnoses such as sleep apnea, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and issues with insulin resistance, metabolism and glucose tolerance can increase the likelihood of a PCOS diagnosis. Nearly all of these factors can be reduced or eliminated by maintaining a healthy weight and body mass index. Morbid obesity is defined as a BMI of 40 or greater, while obesity is defined as a BMI over 30.

Dr. Laurence Jacobs of Fertility Centers of Illinois has treated patients with PCOS, and has helped many women lessen disorder symptoms and conceive. FCI also offers a reduced price PCOS screening program.

“By changing lifestyle habits and making small changes to diet and exercise, women with polycystic ovarian syndrome can not only feel better, they can improve chances of conception by 10 percent,” explains Dr. Jacobs.

Frequently misdiagnosed or mistaken for other medical problems, PCOS can begin in the teen years with symptoms progressing gradually. Common symptoms of PCOS include irregular or no menstrual periods, acne, obesity/weight gain/inability to lose weight, breathing problems while sleeping, depression, oily skin, infertility, skin discolorations, high cholesterol levels, elevated blood pressure, excess or abnormal hair growth and distribution, pain in the lower abdomen and pelvis, multiple ovarian cysts, and skin tags. Some women have only a few symptoms, while others have several.

Women have many options to help reduce and lessen the symptoms of PCOS. Making these healthy changes can boost fertility and reduce the prevalence of additional medical problems. As each woman is different, some recommended treatments may work for some and not others.

Physical activity and weight loss can greatly reduce several symptoms of PCOS. As little as a 5-10 percent weight loss has been shown to help restore ovulation, lower cholesterol levels and reduce diabetes risk, acne, hair growth and depression.

Dietary changes and herbal supplements can also greatly reduce symptoms and aid in weight loss. Speak with a nutritionist with experience in treating women with PCOS to develop a diet tailored to your needs.

Lastly, some find that medication such as oral contraceptives, insulin-sensitizing agents and anti-androgens can also help with PCOS symptoms. For those looking to have a family, making healthy changes and receiving help from a reproductive endocrinologist with expertise in the latest treatments can greatly improve the chances of conception.


Fertility Centers of Illinois, S.C., is one of the nation's leading fertility treatment practices, providing advanced reproductive endocrinology services in the Chicago area for more than 30 years. FCI physicians, embryologists and support staff are stringently chosen based on educational background, medical skills and their ability to collaborate. With a team of 10 nationally and internationally recognized reproductive physicians who treat thousands of patients each year, the practice has earned a reputation for overcoming hard-to-solve fertility issues. FCI is dedicated to medical and clinical excellence and continues to invest in the latest technologies and research. FCI offers a comprehensive range of fertility treatment options including intrauterine insemination, in vitro fertilization, donor egg, gestational carrier, and pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, as well as extensive resources to address financial and emotional needs. Fostering a culture for continuous innovation has made FCI home to the annual Midwest Reproductive Symposium which attracts experts in the field of reproductive endocrinology from around the world. FCI has 10 offices conveniently located throughout the Chicagoland area (Buffalo Grove, Chicago/River North, Crystal Lake, Glenview, Highland Park, Hoffman Estates, Lindenhurst, Naperville, Oakbrook Terrace, and Orland Park). FCI is a member of the Attain Fertility Network which provides discounted fertility treatment programs. For more information visit

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