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Getting Pregnant with PCOS: There’s Still Hope

calendarAugust 23, 2016
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How to get pregnant with pcosGetting Pregnant with PCOS: There’s Still Hope

Polycystic ovary syndrome, also referred to as PCOS, is a condition that largely impacts the ovarian function of your body. Each month, about five fluid-filled sacs forms on your ovaries — these are called follicles. Between 15 and 20 eggs mature in your follicles every month. However, only one of the eggs reaches maturity during the follicular phase of your menstrual cycle (about 13 days). When you ovulate, the follicle needs to burst to release the egg. 

Ovarian cysts are due to follicles not bursting, or bursting and reclosing. The polycystic ovary syndrome is when an ovary develops twice as many follicles as normally, most of which enlarge but don’t burst to release the egg. Usually, PCOS happens when hormones are thrown out of balance, causing ovulation to occur irregularly. 

The thing is, PCOS can greatly interfere with your efforts of conceiving. As a matter of fact, women with polycystic ovary syndrome have difficulty getting pregnant. Some ask, “Can you get pregnant with PCOS?” In short, yes — you can, and here’s how.

What Causes PCOS?

Before we venture any further, let’s analyze the causes of polycystic ovary syndrome. Most of the time, there are several factors that play a huge role in the development of this condition. PCOS has been shown to run in families, so genetics is also involved. If someone in your family had polycystic ovary syndrome, there’s a chance that you’ll have it too.

However, polycystic ovary syndrome is usually the result of higher insulin levels in your body. Overweight women, as well as women who have become less sensitive to the effects of insulin, usually have much higher insulin levels as compared to normal, healthy women. That’s because more insulin is needed to regulate blood sugar levels. 

When there’s more insulin than it should, the hormones that make your menstrual cycle run smoothly will be affected. This, in turn, causes more luteinizing hormone (LH) to be produced as compared to follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). As a result, more testosterone is produced than estrogen — and where there’s more testosterone, ovulation can’t occur.

How Do You Know You Have PCOS?

Women with polycystic ovary syndrome experience irregular periods as a result of irregular ovulation. The tendency to put weight can aggravate the problem, leading to PCOS. A few symptoms you can expect include:

  • irregular or missed periods due to irregular ovulation;
  • difficulty getting pregnant;
  • depression and mood swings;
  • weight gain;
  • extra face, chest and belly hair;
  • thinning hair or hair loss (most noticeable on your head);
  • oily skin and acne.

How Is PCOS Diagnosed?

Women with PCOS experience different symptoms, so diagnosing the condition can be difficult without adequate tests. Sometimes, thyroid dysfunction may cause symptoms that are similar to polycystic ovary syndrome, so your doctor will want to perform the following tests to determine if your problem is PCOS:

  • Blood test to measure hormone levels: the test should measure the amount of the hormone released by your egg follicles (AMH) — if the amount is lower, PCOS is a possible cause.
  • Ultrasound scan via your vagina: this is to check for enlarged polycystic ovary, and see if any cysts are present.

Your medical and menstrual cycle history will also help him determine if you’re having polycystic ovary syndrome.

How to Get Pregnant with PCOS Naturally?

Since PCOS is largely influenced by weight gain, one of the first things you should do is to consult with a nutritionist and get a personalized nutrition plan to help you reach a healthy body weight and body mass index (BMI). It’s enough to shed the extra pounds to improve hormone balance and start ovulating regularly again. If you ovulate regularly, then you can get pregnant. 

Talking to an endocrinologist will also help you determine what’s to be done in case of your hormone imbalances.

Other Treatments for PCOS

If losing weight doesn’t help, you can explore other ways to cope with PCOS symptoms and get pregnant. These include:

  • Clomifene — A fertility drug, clomifene can help you get pregnant by stimulating ovulation. If this drug isn’t working, an alternative would be gonadotrophins, although we suggest being careful with this drug since it can overstimulate your ovaries, causing twin pregnancy.
  • Metformin — Metformin is a diabetes drug, and can successfully increase your body’s sensitivity to insulin. As a result, your body won’t produce extra insulin, so both insulin and testosterone levels decrease. This will help you ovulate normally — and regularly. Side effects of metformin include nausea and vomiting. When taken in combination with clomifene, metformin can dramatically boost your chances of conceiving.
  • Laparoscopic ovarian drilling — Surgery on your ovary is another option you have for treating PCOS if clomifene wasn’t effective. It’s also less risky than taking gonadotropins. With laparoscopic ovarian drilling, the tissue on the ovaries that’s producing testosterone is destroyed, temporarily improving hormone balance so you can conceive. Unfortunately, results are not permanent, and you may need to repeat the procedure if you weren’t able to get pregnant.

Reaching a healthy body weight and BMI is necessary for laparoscopic ovarian drilling to be successful. If you haven’t already, then your doctor will ask you to.

PCOS and Pregnant?

If you have PCOS but managed to get pregnant, you need to take extra care of yourself, as this condition increases the risk of weight-related issues that might interfere with the development of your baby.

Complications include:

  • high blood pressure;
  • pre-eclampsia;
  • gestational diabetes;
  • miscarriage.

Regular visits to your GP or ob-gyn can help you monitor your pregnancy and see if any complications arise. According to BabyCentre, “Being a healthy weight when you conceive can reduce these risks.” Try to eat as healthy as possible, and develop a healthy exercise program so you can reach a good body mass index.

Read also: Trying to Get Pregnant? Find Out the Answers

We Want to Hear Your Story!

Has PCOS been an obstacle for you and your partner? How have you overcome the problem? We want to hear your story, so use the comment box to share it with the rest of the world!

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