PCOS and Getting Pregnant:
Everything You Should Know
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a very common health condition. More than five million women are affected by it, according to Penn Medicine. Unfortunately, many women don't get diagnosed correctly, meaning countless women are unaware they have PCOS.
Many women who have PCOS have problems with their fertility. However, it's not impossible to get pregnant while you have PCOS.
Read on as we discuss what you need to know about PCOS and getting pregnant.
How Does Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Affect Fertility?
A lot of women wonder, "How does polycystic ovary syndrome affect fertility?" PCOS is a condition that affects a woman's hormones. It makes it difficult for them to ovulate.
Ovulation is when a mature egg gets released from the follicles in a woman's ovaries every month. Women that have PCOS produce higher levels of testosterone, the male hormone. High levels of testosterone can result in absent or irregular periods, and hinder ovulation.
The hormone imbalance caused by PCOS can also interfere with the follicles' ability to release mature eggs. The eggs stay in the ovaries, forming cysts.
For more in-depth information read PCOS and Hormones: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions.
Fertility Treatment Options for PCOS
Have you been wondering, "will PCOS affect pregnancy?" There are fertility treatment options for PCOS if you're attempting to get pregnant. From medications to surgical procedures, there are ways to improve your chances of fertility.
If you have PCOS, you should ask your healthcare provider to test your insulin levels. The drug metformin can help treat you if you're insulin-resistant.
Metformin is also occasionally prescribed to women with PCOS even if their insulin levels are normal. The drug might help with the following:
- Encourage weight loss
- Improve fertility drugs' effectiveness
- Get your menstrual cycles back on track
- Reduce how many miscarriages you have
While metformin by itself isn't likely to help you conceive, it can help you start ovulating on your own again.
According to Advanced Fertility, Clomid is one of the least complicated methods to induce ovulation. It's usually the first choice of treatment options of healthcare professionals.
Unfortunately, some women have a resistance to Clomid. This occurs when the drug doesn't trigger ovulation like it's designed to. Sometimes a combination of Clomid and metformin can help a woman overcome resistance to Clomid.
Letrozole, or Femara, isn't a drug for infertility, but it's used to help women who have PCOS. Letrozole is a medication for cancer. However, it can help stimulate ovulation in women who have PCOS.
People shouldn't be deterred by the fact Letrozole is a cancer medication. The side effects are typically mild with the drug.
If you don't find success with any of the above medications, your doctor might recommend gonadotropins. It's an injectable drug that's made up of the hormones LH and FSH.
Your doctor might recommend a combination of injectable and oral fertility drugs. They might also do a cycle with just the injectable drugs.
Your healthcare provider will likely start with a low dose of gonadotropins. That's because one of the risks of the drug is ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS). That's where the ovaries overreact to getting fertility medication.
If your healthcare provider doesn't find success with oral or injectable fertility medications, one of the next steps is in vitro fertilization (IVF). IVF involves injectable drugs that stimulate your ovaries.
The idea is to stimulate the ovaries enough so they produce a large number of mature eggs. The eggs are then retrieved from a woman's ovaries during a procedure called egg retrieval.
The mature eggs are put with sperm into a Petri dish with the hopes that the sperm will fertilize the eggs. The fertilized eggs are given three to five days to grow and divide. Once that process is complete, the eggs are transferred into the woman's uterus.
After two weeks, your doctor will conduct a pregnancy test to see if the IVF cycle was successful.
Another option in lieu of IVF is in vitro maturation (IVM). With this option, the woman isn't given high doses of injectable fertility drugs. Instead, she'll either receive low doses of the drugs or none at all.
The doctor does the same egg retrieval procedure and takes immature eggs. They'll then mature the eggs in a lab.
Other Ways to Increase Fertility
It's possible for women who have PCOS to get pregnant on their own, but making some alterations in their lifestyle will help the process. Let's talk about some of the other ways you can learn how to treat PCOS and increase your fertility.
Many women who have PCOS struggle with their weight. According to Very Well Health, 70% of them are obese or overweight. PCOS has negative effects on how the body processes insulin. As a result, women can gain weight if they have PCOS.
One of the primary reasons a woman who has PCOS can't conceive is because they don't ovulate at all or on a regular schedule. Overweight women who have PCOS have a higher chance to experience severe anovulation. That's where a woman goes months between her periods.
Losing some weight might help bring back more regular ovulation. Losing around five to 10% of your body weight might be all that you need to jump-start your menstrual cycles.
Regular Exercise and a Healthy Diet
Eating healthily is important for women who have PCOS. A healthy diet helps immensely with their bodies' insulin regulation and decreases the risk of becoming overweight.
The most important thing to keep in mind when starting a new diet is including foods that are rich in nutrients. You'll also want to consume the right amount of protein and foods that are low in sugar. You should also avoid processed and junk foods as much as you can.
Some tips to help you with a healthy diet include:
- More greens and protein
- Smaller dinner and big breakfast
- Eat complex carbs, like beans and whole grains
Regular exercise is another great way to manage PCOS symptoms. Combining regular exercise and a healthy diet can help improve your menstrual cycle.
While exercise and diet alone might be enough to help increase your fertility, living a healthy lifestyle is good for not only you but for your future baby.
For additional information read PCOS and Working Out: Tips To Manage Symptoms.
Monitor Your Ovulation
While it's harder to predict ovulation if you have an irregular cycle, monitoring when you think you're ovulating will help increase your fertility. Ovulation typically happens 12-16 days before a woman starts her period.
The duration and time of a woman's ovulation change over her lifetime. Monitoring it will help you determine when you're most likely to conceive.
You can purchase an ovulation prediction kit that you can use from the comfort of your home. The kit tests your urine for the luteinizing hormone. This hormone level increases during your ovulation period. After you've received a positive result on an ovulation test, it's best to have sex three days after.
You should also try to have sex as often as you can during your fertile window. Your fertile window includes the six-day time period before, during, and after ovulation when a woman is the most fertile.
Take Prenatal Vitamins and Supplements
A prenatal vitamin is beneficial to take even before you attempt to get pregnant. Starting to take one early gives you enough time to find one that you like and that agrees with your system.
Daily multivitamins might work as well, but you want to ensure that it has at least 400 mcg of folic acid. Folic acid is essential to preventing birth defects.
You can also help balance your hormones and symptoms of PCOS with supplements. There are certain vitamins and nutrients that can help decrease the side effects of PCOS and regulate your cycle.
Get Support for PCOS and Fertility Treatment
Trying to manage your PCOS and fertility treatment can be an incredibly stressful time. Stress also plays a major role in women getting pregnant when they have PCOS.
Women who have PCOS have high levels of cortisol, one of our body's stress hormones. Increased levels of cortisol can cause weight gain and increase our body's resistance to insulin.
Managing your stress levels and finding a support system while you go through fertility treatments is essential. Some of the ways you can lower your stress levels include:
- Self-care practices
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
It's important that you take care of yourself through the process to help improve your chances of fertility.
Do Your Research About PCOS and Getting Pregnant
Hopefully, we've answered the burning question of "will PCOS affect pregnancy?" There's a lot to learn about managing PCOS and getting pregnant, but there are a lot of different treatment options for you to explore.
Check out our online store to learn more about how the Knowell supplement can help decrease your symptoms of PCOS.