Friday, November 21, 2008

Free Infertility Radio Show - PCOS and Infertility Treatments

Frustrated with my current cycle (I think it's a total bust, but I'll post more about that later), I have been surfing the net to try and find some answers. Answers for what to do next, what various tests and procedures cost, etc. I came across's live one-hour online radio show, which I hadn't heard about before. It seems like they do a lot of interviews with reproductive endocrinologists, so it seems like a good opportunity to get some reputable info. Live

Their shows broadcast every Thursday at 10:00am PT/1:00pm ET. They also keep a database of past shows, so you can listen to the topics that are of real interest to you. I came across the following topic, which really hit home for me, and took a few notes while I was listening... sorry for the incomplete sentences and/or misspellings. :)

Goodbye PCOS, Hello Fertility Treatment, hosted Kim Hahn and Dr. Drew Tortoriello, Medical Director of SIRM-NY. Dated 10/30/08 (archived in the scrollable column on the left).

In PCOS patients, excess androgen test worthwile. Remember, just because you have a period, doesn't mean you ovulated. Even if women do ovulate, they might be at an increase for abnormal oocytes. Excess androgen causes problems with eggs. So, even with women who get pregnant with IVF, their risk for miscarriage is 2x more, due to the androgen excess their eggs are under.

Are OPK tests or OV Watch good for PCOS patients? Yes still good to use. LH elevation in pcos patients cause false positive in opks though, so it just depends on that particular person.

Mid-cycle Follicule Check via Ultrasound while on Clomid
Recommend starting with monitoring with ultrasound to find out when a follicule is developing to give better guidance. Rather than only do ultrasounds, start on clomid. Are people monitored a lot on clomid? Always recommend both scanning and clomid because you don't want to waste time if you don't have response to the clomid and you won't know unless you get your period or if it doesn't come, you then have to figure out what to do next. If clomid is working within 10 days of last pill you should see evidence of this by an enlarged follicule through an ultrasound. If it's not enlarged, then start new dose (higher) the next cycle.

If your partner has normal sperm, it's ok to not to IUI as the first option because the problem is due to anovulation in the woman. But, IUI's are good if you have unexplained infertility because clomid by itself and insemination by itself really didn't do much, but the two together have shown better results. IUI's are fairly inexpensive, easy to do, and invasive, so these combined treatments can be very benefitial.

Things that Mimic PCOS
1st thing - rule out other things that might mimic PCOS, like congenitial adrenial hypoplasia (when adrenial gland pump out excess androgens), cushings syndrome (too much cortosol), insulin resistance b/c 40-50% can be insulin resistance (not necessairly diabetic, but their body pumps out too much insulin to fight off the diabetis; an insulin problem might cause an ovulation problem.

PCOS and Metformin
With PCOS, should metformin be used together? Open for debate. Connection between the two was discovered by a guy named Nesslin. High androgen levels can be due to not ovulating. Metformin can bring androgen levels down. However, it shouldn't be exepected to work alone (without an ovulation inducing drug).

Clomid vs. Injectables
Why is clomid the best? Why aren't injectables even better than clomid? Related to heirarchy of treatments. Injectables are an option, but most people would start with clomid first because it's easier, shorter duration, cheaper and it works for about 70% of women. Clomid is also pretty gentle - as in you don't have to cancel a cycle most of the time because they don't produce too many follicules. 25-30% of each follicule turning into a baby.

Injectables cost more, and could cause a much more troublesome response, even with low dose because the produce too many follicules. It's an option for sure if clomid has failed. Also, sometimes if you do injectables you should strongly consider IVF because you control how many embroys go into the uterus. If you can just get a PCOS patient to ovulate you don't have too many other issues getting pregnant.

Increase in Miscarriage due to Excess Androgens Present
However, there may be an increased risk in miscarriage regardless of IVF, clomid, IUI.. because oocyctes have grown up with excess androgen, which does bad things to egg quality. If you're going to to injectables you should consider doing birth control or lupron injectables to bring down androgen levels for a month or so, so that you can have eggs that grow up in an environment without all the excess androgen. Lupron PCOS users have shown a reduced rate in miscarriage (though, I've read there can be bad side effects with Lupron).

Next Steps after Ovulating on Clomid, but no BFP
If you do about 4 cycles with clomid and are ovulating but don't get pregnant, then you should consider injectables with IUI, or move straight to injectables and IVF. Most people feel comfortable with that because there's not much difference between clomid and injectables (just ovulate in a different way).

Hyperstimulation Risks
Are these people at risk of hyperstimulating? It's rare with clomid only patients, but people using injectables DO have a higher risk. In IVF you usually are at a bit higher risk because you are trying to encourage as many eggs as possible because you can control how many go back in.

Excess Testosterone?
Having more testosterone - Does your body just create this or do you get it more for hormones or steroids (possibly in food). Likely no, it's just your body. Some studies do show DHEA supplements (a weak androgen which has quality of life benefits) encourage androgens, so you should avoid this if you have PCOS. Mostly genetic that we don't completely understand. Not many meds to bring those levels down except for things like Lupron and Birth Control, which only brings it down for a short time (while on the meds and shortly after).

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