Getting Pregnant with PCOS

PCOS stands for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. This encompasses hormonal imbalances in a woman that has many long-term effects such as difficulty in falling pregnant. It can lead to diseases such as diabetes and cardiac issues, etc. The hormonal imbalances are caused by many tiny cysts that grow onto the ovaries. A successful pregnancy needs all the associated hormones to be present at the correct levels so that all the bodily processes required to allow the fetus to grow and thrive, are able to occur.

Can I Get Pregnant with PCOS?

With medical intervention, it is very possible for a woman with PCOS to fall pregnant. There are many fertility treatment options available, depending on the individual need of the patient.

Having POCS will affect the following processes in your body:

  • Ovulation often does not occur or occurs very sporadically.
  • Menstruation is not regular.
  • The uterus is therefore not properly prepared for the implantation of the embryo.

The treatment chosen will intervene at any one or more of these processes. PCOS cannot be prevented, but an early diagnosis and subsequent treatment can minimize your risk to the long-term effects.

How to Get Pregnant with PCOS

It is possible to make a few changes to your lifestyle and take medications to improve your chances of getting pregnant with PCOS.

1. Maintain Healthy Weight

Maintaining your ideal weight will help your body use the insulin more successfully, which in turn means better blood glucose control and more regular menstruation.

2. Exercise Regularly

Regular physical activity is a great way to reduce your weight and improve your moods. This is in addition to regulating your menstrual cycle and improving your chances of getting pregnant.

3. Eat Balanced Diet

A better diet means eating foods with a low glycemic index i.e. set limits on the total carbohydrate intake to 16g per meal and 7g per snack. Eat your carbs with foods that will slow down the glucose release like fiber, protein and healthy fats. Eliminate all highly processed sugars like white potatoes, white rice, white flour, etc. Eat low-fat dairy, lots of fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grains, etc. If necessary, consult a dietician or nutritionist to help you customize your diet to your taste. Quit smoking because smokers have a smaller chance of falling pregnant than non-smokers.

4. Medications

Medications can also help increase the possibility of getting pregnant with PCOS.

  • Fertility medications can help improve the chances of ovulation but the risk of these medications is multiple pregnancies. The first drug your doctor may prescribe is clomiphene citrate. This will stimulate ovulation. If the clomiphene citrate is not successful, the doctor may place you on sex hormone therapy to stimulate egg release.
  • Metformin may also be prescribed in combination with the above to regulate insulin levels. This will decrease insulin and testosterone levels in your body, allowing your ovaries to ovulate normally. The disadvantage of this medication is the side effects that occur, like nausea, diarrhea and vomiting.
  • Laparoscopic ovarian drilling (LOD) destroys any tissue on the ovaries that are preventing ovulation. It is possible for this offending tissue to grow back so it is not a permanent solution, but it may buy you enough time to ovulate and fall pregnant.

5. Vitro Fertilization

The egg is removed from the mother and combined with sperm outside the body. The resulting embryo is inserted into the uterus. This is a very expensive option and success is not always guaranteed.

Possible Complications of Pregnancy with PCOS

Getting pregnant with PCOS may put you at risk for some complications like:

1. Preeclampsia

It is a sudden increase in blood pressure that can damage vital organs of the mother and baby like the brain, kidneys, etc. In extreme cases, the doctor may opt for a premature birth to save the baby and the mother.

2. High Blood Pressure

Most pregnant women with PCOS develop hypertension, especially in the latter half of the pregnancy.

4. Gestational Diabetes

A pregnant woman with PCOS can develop a temporary form of diabetes where the body becomes resistant to insulin. High levels of circulating glucose in the blood stream can lead to fetal complications, an increased risk of miscarriage or preeclampsia.

3. Miscarriages

The hormonal imbalances put the pregnancy at a far higher risk for miscarriage than a normal pregnancy.

5. Premature Birth

Hormonal imbalances may precipitate early labor before the 37th week of pregnancy. The new-born may not be fully developed enough to be born yet. This may place the infant at risk for infections and diseases.

6. Other Complications

Caesarean section births are more common because of all the potential complications that can occur when you get pregnant with PCOS. Prenatal depression is also more prevalent in pregnant women with PCOS

Other Women's Experiences of Getting Pregnant with PCOS

I am 26 years old and have been diagnosed with PCOS. I had surgery to remove about 41 cysts and they haven't returned. I am on metformin therapy to regulate my insulin levels. I became pregnant soon after my diagnosis and treatment, after many years of trying and now I have a healthy baby boy.

I have only been recently diagnosed with PCOS after suffering from irregular periods, acne, excessive facial hair for many years. My treatment included a combination of clomiphene, hormone therapy and metformin. I conceived very soon after starting my therapy and am now 6 weeks pregnant.

I was diagnosed with POCS, prescribed metformin and fell pregnant almost immediately. 

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