Research shows that PCOS and IBS, two conditions frequently affecting young women, may be linked. Dr. Mark Trolice of Fertility CARE: The IVF Center urges infertility patients and their caregivers to understand the symptoms, as well as the emotional and physical effects of this combination and how to deal with them.
(Orlando, FL) November 15, 2019—Medical research showed that up to 42 percent of women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) also suffer from a chronic and painful condition known as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).1 Dr. Mark Trolice, Director of Fertility CARE: The IVF Center, notes that while more research on the connection between these two conditions is needed, infertility specialists in particular should be aware of this combination and of the physical and psychological issues it can raise for their patients. “PCOS,” says Dr. Trolice, “involves a vicious cycle of hormone imbalances and risks reproductive and medical disease. These serious problems, along with IBS, aggravates both the physical and psychological impact on the patient.”
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, PCOS is a hormonal disorder that can affect up to one in five women in the United States. One of the most common reasons for infertility and the most common cause for ovulation dysfunction, PCOS is diagnosed in women having two of the following three criteria: ovulation dysunction (abnormal menstrual intervals and bleeding), high androgen (male hormone) levels that causes abnormal hair growth patterns, and ultrasound appearance of enlarged ovaries with multiple small benign cysts. IBS is characterized by chronic abnormal bowel patterns and abdominal pain. While the connection between these two conditions is not yet clearly understood, it is thought by some specialists that the hormonal abnormalities associated with PCOS may interfere with bowel function, triggering the symptoms of IBS.2
Among the challenges facing PCOS sufferers, notes Dr. Trolice, is that the condition not only causes reproductive problems for women but also significantly increases their risk for medical problems – insulin resistance and prediabetes/diabetes, abnormal cholesterol and triglyceride levels, heart disease, endometrial cancer (cancer of the inner lining of the uterus), obesity, and sleep apnea. “The real tragedy” says Dr. Trolice, “is the marked delay in women receiving the correct diagnosis.” A recent survey found that it took nearly half of an international group of PCOS patients three doctors and two years from the onset of symptoms to receive a proper diagnosis.3 One reason for this is that PCOS has numerous symptoms that can be missed by physicians. Another element, however, is the fact that some medical professionals may downplay women’s reports of pain, which can cause delay in diagnosis and treatment.4
Conversely, says Dr. Trolice, the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, which can include cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, and diarrhea or constipation, are relatively straightforward. While these symptoms in some patients with IBS can be severe, many patients are able to control the symptoms by managing diet, lifestyle, and stress. More severe symptoms can be treated with medication and counseling.5
“One particularly troubling side effect of PCOS, with or without IBS, is depression and anxiety,” said Dr. Trolice. “Women in infertility treatment—particularly those dealing with a difficult-to-diagnose condition like PCOS—are apt to believe ‘I did something wrong,’ and blame their infertility struggle on themselves. It is incumbent upon fertility specialists to recognize these negative emotions, engage and empower their patients so they can understand how best to deal with their disease.”
About Fertility CARE: The IVF Center
Fertility CARE (Center of Assisted Reproduction and Endocrinology): The IVF Center provides patient-centered, evidence-based, and individually customized reproductive care in a comfortable and compassionate setting. This Central Florida IVF center is a local, regional, and international destination for infertility patients and consistently earns 5-star patient ratings in online reviews. Established in 2003 by founder and director Dr. Mark P. Trolice, it uniquely offers both male and female testing, evaluation, and treatment. Today, the practice encompasses the Center for Male Infertility, headed by a fellowship-trained male reproductive specialist; the Mind/Body Institute, overseen by a licensed clinical reproductive psychologist; and the IVF Laboratory of Central Florida, led by a Board-certified high complexity laboratory director. Fertility CARE – The IVF Center offers a comprehensive range of infertility tests and treatment options as well as genetic testing, egg freezing with fertility preservation, egg donation, embryo cryopreservation, surrogacy and other services. For full details, visit http://TheIVFCenter.com.
About Dr. Mark P. Trolice
Mark P. Trolice, M.D., is the founder and Director of Fertility CARE – The IVF Center. He also serves as pending Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology (OB/GYN) at the University of Central Florida College of Medicine in Orlando and Medical Director of the Egg Donor Program at Cryos International, the world’s largest sperm donor bank. Dr. Trolice is Board-certified in OB/GYN and Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, and he is a Fellow of the American Colleges of Obstetrics and Gynecology (FACOG), Surgeons (FACS), and Endocrinology (FACE). Renowned as a top fertility specialist, on a personal basis, Dr. Trolice and his wife battled infertility for over 10 years before adopting their children. This journey gave him unique insights into patients’ struggles and is included in his forthcoming book, “The Fertility Doctor’s Guide to Overcoming Infertility—Discovering Your Reproductive Potential and Maximizing Your Odds of Having a Baby” published by Harvard Common Press for release in January 2020. Dr. Trolice is a sought-after expert with dozens of broadcast, podcast and print appearances in addition to national acclaim as one of America’s Top Doctors® as well as repeat recipient of the American Medical Association’s “Physician’s Recognition Award”. In January 2019, he launched his “Fertility Health” podcast interviewing nationally renowned experts on vital topics in reproductive medicine. Learn why he has earned the trust of patients and physicians alike: http://marktrolicemd.com.
Mathur, R. et al, “Polycystic ovary syndrome is associated with an increased prevalence of irritable bowel syndrome,” Digestive Diseases and Sciences, April 2010.
Shiffer, Emily, “The Connection Between PCOS and IBS,” Shape, November 5, 2019.
MacMillan, Amanda, “It Takes an Average of 2 Years and 3 Doctors to Be Diagnosed With PCOS,” Health, December 6, 2016.
Thorpe, JR, “PCOS Diagnosis Age Can Be All Over The Place, According To 9 Women Who’ve Gone Through It,” Bustle, July 21, 2019.
Clinic Staff, “Irritable Bowel Syndrome,” Mayo Clinic, 2019.
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Karla Jo Helms