It’s PCOS Awareness Month, and we’re talking all things PCOS and fertility. With millions of undiagnosed cases in the UK, we want to encourage everyone to know their fertility health.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the most common cause of fertility problems, affecting around 1 in 10 women in the UK.
Many people only find out they have it after trying for a baby. This can come as a shock, especially if you’ve never had symptoms.
On this page, you can find out:
What PCOS is and how it affects fertility
How to check your fertility health
More about your pregnancy options
Stories from people with PCOS who’ve had fertility treatment
Help us spread the word and raise PCOS awareness - share this page with someone you know.
PCOS is a hormonal condition that can cause:
Excess hair, acne and weight gain
Large ovaries with lots of follicles (fluid-filled sacs)
If you have at least two of these symptoms, you may be diagnosed with PCOS.
Why people get PCOS is unknown and not everyone with PCOS will have symptoms.
Polycystic ovary syndrome affects fertility because it reduces or prevents your ovaries from releasing an egg (called ovulation) during your menstrual cycle.
This is caused by having very high levels of anti-mullerian hormone (AMH). Even if you do have menstrual cycles, your hormonal balance can affect the quality of your eggs.
These factors are why one of the main symptoms of PCOS is having a hard time getting pregnant.
Being on the contraceptive pill can cover up the other signs of PCOS, like irregular periods, so you only find out when you start trying for a baby.
That’s what happened to Karen during her fertility journey.
A fertility assessment gives you a fuller picture of your fertility health, including whether you have PCOS and if you can do anything to increase your chances of pregnancy.
If you've already been diagnosed with PCOS, a fertility assessment can help you understand:
Your current hormone balance
Whether any medicines have helped reduce the size of your ovaries
If your partner has any fertility challenges that are contributing
It can also help show whether there’s anything else going on that could be making it harder to get pregnant.
Once you know your fertility health, we can support you in exploring the next steps, including whether specialist treatments like IVF could help.
Anti-mullerian hormone (AMH) is often higher in women with PCOS. Knowing your personal AMH tells us a lot about your fertility, including whether certain medicines could be helpful for your PCOS symptoms.
The antra follicle count (AFC) scan is an ultrasound that helps us see if you have extra follicles, which is a sign of PCOS. It can also show whether you have any cysts that may need treatment.
If you’re trying to get pregnant with a male partner, it’s a good idea to check whether there are any fertility problems contributing on their side. A sperm analysis checks that the size, shape and mobility of their sperm are normal.
If you're unsure about your fertility or have symptoms like irregular periods, a fertility assessment is a great first step in getting personalised fertility support.
If you're above your healthy BMI, losing weight can improve the symptoms and long-term risks of PCOS, as well as your fertility. Learn more about nutritional therapy for fertility.
Your consultant may offer medicines to induce ovulation like Clomifene or Letrozole. Metformin is another option that can encourage regular monthly ovulation and reduce insulin resistance to help improve fertility.
IVF is one of the most successful and commonly used fertility treatments, and it can be optimised for people with PCOS. Learn more about IVF.
Treating your PCOS can also reduce the risk of any complications during pregnancy.
If you have PCOS, it’s important to receive personalised, specialist fertility treatment, as you may be more sensitive to IVF.
We're proud to have helped many people with PCOS to become parents and continue to provide tailored treatment programs for those with the condition.
Read our patient stories from people with PCOS
“I had a range of tests, which revealed that I have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which explained my irregular periods.”
"The doctors and nurses knew the exact level of treatment that would be required, and were likely to work for us”
"I needed IVF because of my PCOS and then something amazing happened”
“It all went so smoothly. The staff were so kind and professional that I didn’t have to worry about anything.”
One of the most challenging aspects of PCOS can be its potential impact on fertility. If you’re looking for support on your fertility journey – whether that’s advice, a fertility assessment, or looking to explore fertility treatments, our team of experts are here to offer personalised care tailored around you.
It’s hard to give an estimate of success rates for PCOS because it depends on how the condition affects you and the chosen treatment.
Studies show that IVF tends to work just as well for people with PCOS than people without.
IVF can be a safe and effective treatment for people with PCOS. Our specialists are experienced in checking hormone levels and tailoring the dose of IVF hormones to you.
There is a small risk of overstimulating your ovaries. This is a rare but serious complication that can affect anyone having IVF, though it is more common with PCOS.
Some people take the contraceptive pill for PCOS, which can temporarily reduce AMH levels.
You can still have an AMH test if you are using hormonal contraception.
This is because it's uncertain whether everyone’s AMH will be lowered by contraception.
If you are currently using any hormonal contraception and have been thinking of coming off it, you may prefer to wait a month or so after stopping contraception to test your hormones for the most accurate insight.
Always talk to your GP before stopping any treatment for PCOS.
You can support your fertility through healthy lifestyle choices, including:
Healthy well-balanced diet
Regular exercise regimen
Reduced caffeine intake
Preconception supplements - Folic Acid and vitamin D