Make Exercise Part Of Your Weekly Routine
Like the right PCOS diet, exercise is another powerful way we can directly improve our reproductive potential without taking drugs .
For example, its been shown that for women with PCOS, progressive resistance training can reduce insulin resistance as well as lower testosterone and free androgen levels .
From what I understand, the way this works is that when we work out, were actually increasing the density of mitochondria in our cells. These are cellular components that power our muscles. More mitochondria in our muscle cells make them more sensitive to insulin, and the more sensitive they are to insulin, the better our hormone balance.
Aerobic exercise is also known to have a powerful effect at improving insulin sensitivity, but whats even more interesting is its effect on inflammation another root cause of many PCOS symptoms and health risks. This too has been well documented by science .
All of this should be of great interest to women with lean type PCOS as much as it is to women with more classical symptoms that want to know how to lose weight with PCOS. By reducing androgen levels, ovarian function is directly improved and this means better baby-making potential, whether or not you are wanting to lose weight.
This is saying nothing for the fact that exercise is one of the cheapest, safest and most effective way to help with stress management the third key pillar to a PCOS friendly lifestyle. Put simply, exercise is awesome for both PCOS and fertility.
Will My Pcos Symptoms Go Away At Menopause
Yes and no. PCOS affects many systems in the body. Many women with PCOS find that their menstrual cycles become more regular as they get closer to . However, their PCOS hormonal imbalance does not change with age, so they may continue to have symptoms of PCOS.
Also, the risks of PCOS-related health problems, such as diabetes, stroke, and heart attack, increase with age. These risks may be higher in women with PCOS than those without.
Symptoms Of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
A common scenario in women with polycystic ovaries is:
- Irregular menstrual cycles, called oligomenorrhea, and sometimes a total lack of periods, referred to by doctors as amenorrhea
- Onset of excess facial and body hair growth hirsutism, in the teens or early 20s
- Gradually worsening of the excess hair growth over the years
Women with polycystic ovaries often have an excess amount of the male hormones testosterone and androstenedione resulting in high testosterone levels in the blood. Women with PCO and high testosterone can have increased facial and body hair growth called hirsutism.
Read Also: Can You Donate Plasma While Pregnant
What Are The Symptoms Of Pcos
Some of the symptoms of PCOS include:
- Irregular menstrual cycle. Women with PCOS may miss periods or have fewer periods . Or, their periods may come every 21 days or more often. Some women with PCOS stop having menstrual periods.
- Too much hair on the face, chin, or parts of the body where men usually have hair. This is called “hirsutism.” Hirsutism affects up to 70% of women with PCOS.
- Acne on the face, chest, and upper back
- Thinning hair or hair loss on the scalp male-pattern baldness
- Weight gain or difficulty losing weight
- Darkening of skin, particularly along neck creases, in the groin, and underneath breasts
- Skin tags, which are small excess flaps of skin in the armpits or neck area
Struggling With Infertiltycould The Cause Be Pcos Or Endometriosis
Endometriosis is a condition in which the tissue that lines the inside of your uterus grows outside the uterus but continues to act as it normally would: thickening, breaking down, and inducing bleeding as part of the monthly menstrual cycle.2
Three telltale symptoms of endometriosis are:
- Painful periods
- Pain with intercourse
- Difficulty conceiving
If you experience at least two of these symptoms, you might consider discussing the need to be tested for endometriosis, says Dr. Richard-Davis. With regard to miscarriages, both doctors emphasized that endometriosis is an unlikely cause of miscarriages on its own but when occurring with at least one other sign, it may suggest the need to discuss your concerns with your healthcare provider. In addition, other signs such as heavy bleeding or bleeding between periods and pain during urination or bowel movements can also point to endometriosis.
Polycystic ovary syndrome, more commonly known as PCOS, is a multifactorial disorder that impacts hormonal, metabolic, and reproductive functions. PCOS is characterized by what Dr. Richard-Davis calls a very specific constellation of symptoms related to irregular menstrual cycles and excess circulating androgens. Androgens are the sex hormones that are usually higher in men and are responsible for excessive hair growth as well as adult acne in women.
Recommended Reading: Lice Treatment Safe For Pregnancy
Irregular Or Absent Periods
The contraceptive pill may be recommended to induce regular periods, or periods may be induced using an intermittent course of progestogen tablets .
This will also reduce the long-term risk of developing cancer of the womb lining associated with not having regular periods.
Other hormonal methods of contraception, such as an intrauterine system , will also reduce this risk by keeping the womb lining thin, but they may not cause periods.
Medications May Be Needed
High levels of androgens can interfere with healthy ovulation. If a healthy egg is not released during ovulation, then a woman will not be able to get pregnant. Many women who have PCOS are not able to get pregnant without the help of ovulation medications. These medications can help a woman ovulate to get pregnant. Women can work with a healthcare provider or fertility specialist to find the right dose and type of medication that works best.
Also Check: Can You Use Vagisil When Pregnant
An Otc Option That Works For Some: Myo
Myo-inositol is a supplement that can increase the rate of ovulation in patients with PCOS, and its often compared to metformin. In one 2010 study looking at the results of metformin versus myo-inositol, researchers found that metformin induced ovulation in 50% of participants and myo-inositol induced ovulation in 65% of participants. That said, Dr. Zore emphasizes that current findings about myo-inositol are not conclusive or a cure-all. She recommends thinking of myo-inositol as a first step to inducing ovulation if you dont yet want to pursue other medical treatments. Whenever you consider taking a supplement, Dr. Zore says to remember there are not a lot of studies available to prove the efficacy of these products. Make sure you talk to your doctor about potential side effects, and if someone has recommended a supplement to you, look into where that recommendation is coming from. Do your research, Dr. Zore says. The only supplements I would recommend for everyone are prenatal vitamins, folic acid, and DHA . Talk to your doctor about everything else.
Treating Pcos With Birth Control Can Make Understanding Your Cycle Trickier
Hormonal birth control is sometimes said to mask PCOS symptoms because it increases your estrogen and/or progesterone levels, which then balances your hormones and regulates your period. If you started taking birth control pills in your early teens to manage your symptoms, you may not remember what your cycle is like without them. Then when people start trying to conceive, they realize all over again that their periods were actually irregular at baseline, Dr. Conti says. As you begin your fertility journey, expect some cycle irregularity and prepare to discuss potential treatments with your healthcare provider. If you were on hormonal birth control in your early days of menstruation, then you may have never had the chance to notice that your cycles are irregular in the first place. When you stop taking birth control and wait a few months for your body to adjust to hormonal changes, you might end up never resuming regular menstruation. In this case, talk to your healthcare provider about fertility hormone testing. If the test reveals abnormal hormone levels, you may be diagnosed with PCOS after other potential causes are eliminated.
Read Also: Lice Treatments While Pregnant
Why Do Some Women With Pcos Have Difficulty Getting Pregnant
Women have follicles which contain egg cells in each ovary during a menstrual cycle. The follicle stimulating hormone is secreted by the brain to select a follicle to mature and release an egg.
If you have PCOS, ovulation doesnt happen as the follicles do not mature. The follicles then accumulate, but without ovulation and pregnancy doesnt happen.
The Link Between Pcos And Infertility
Like the majority of women with this disorder, I was put on birth control as a teen because I only had a period about once or twice a year. While this got rid of the presenting problem, little did I know how bad this was for my PCOS. Despite remaining one of the first drugs offered to women in my situation, birth control for PCOS is a band-aid solution that merely masks the symptoms.
When it comes to understanding the root causes of PCOS and infertility the key factors are chronic low-grade inflammation, insulin resistance, and our unusually high levels of androgenic hormones like testosterone.
These mechanisms are the primary cause of ovarian dysfunction and infertility in women with PCOS. They also hint at multiple ways we can improve fertility using diet and lifestyle interventions. For example, by eating pro-inflammatory foods like gluten, dairy, vegetable oils and sugar, were essentially adding further fuel to a pre-existing fire. Out of control inflammation drives all PCOS symptoms so, it makes perfect sense that eliminating these foods can boost your chances of getting pregnant with PCOS.
Our chronic inflammation is also closely linked to the way our cells respond to glucose. Regardless of whether youre thin, or overweight, the majority of PCOS sufferers will have a dysregulated ovarian insulin response.
Read Also: Braces While Pregnant
Balance Blood Sugar Levels
Your doctor will test your blood sugar levels if youre having trouble getting pregnant. PCOS sometimes leads to high blood sugar levels or type 2 diabetes. This may cause fertility problems.
This happens because PCOS may change how your body uses insulin. This important hormone moves sugar out of the blood and into the muscles and cells where it is burned for energy. PCOS makes your body less sensitive to insulin making it harder for it to do its job.
Balancing your blood sugar levels may help you get pregnant. Eat a healthy diet with more fiber, protein, and healthy fats. Getting plenty of daily exercise and strength training can also help your body use insulin better.
In some cases, your doctor might recommend medications to help balance your blood sugar levels. A common type 2 diabetes drug called metformin makes your body use insulin better to help lower high blood sugar. This can also help you get pregnant with PCOS.
You might need to take metformin in low doses and only temporarily, depending on your blood sugar levels. For best results, eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly along with taking any prescribed medications to help you get pregnant.
If you have high blood sugar levels or type 2 diabetes, its important to check your blood sugar levels with a home monitor every day.
Your doctor will check your blood sugar levels with tests, including:
Can You Still Get Pregnant With Pcos
Women who have been diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome can definitely still get pregnant. If you have PCOS, you may find that you have infrequent or irregular periods which make it difficult to conceive. This is due to hormonal imbalance which can cause problems or prevent the growth and release of eggs from your ovaries . You need to ovulate to get pregnant.
Due to an excess of androgen , PCOS can also mean that you may experience mood changes, weight gain, hair loss from the head, acne and growth of unwanted hair. The weight gain might also be linked to increased levels of insulin. Sound familiar? Read on as we run through some actions that you can take now to increase your chances.
Read Also: Vagisil Cream During Pregnancy
Implement Stress Management Techniques
Many people mistakenly ignore the psychological impact of infertility on reproductive function. This is fairly understandable given the research is fairly anecdotal still, and most people have become accustomed to stressful lifestyles where were pushed to our limits all the time.
But if youve ever felt anxious after a strong cup of coffee, or depressed after a boozey night, then youll have an appreciation for the link between our emotional state and our hormones. Our physiology affects our mental state, and our mental state affects our physiology with the link of course being our hormones.
While coping with stress is important for anyones good health, its particularly important that women with PCOS take care of their emotional wellbeing. Especially if you are trying to get pregnant.
Studies have shown that women with PCOS have elevated levels of the hormone cortisol when subjected to stressful situations . Not only does this reduce our capacity to cope with stress well, but it also causes fat to accumulate on our stomachs and thighs, promotes insulin resistance, and markedly increases our probability of suffering from heart disease .
The interventions that I have always found most useful when trying to conceive include cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness meditation, and the practice of self-compassion. Relaxation exercises are also fantastic for acute stress and insomnia, and certain essential oils can be a great help too.
Medicines To Help You Ovulate
You wonât be able to get pregnant while youâre taking birth control pills for PCOS. But if you need help ovulating so that you can become pregnant, certain medicines may help:
- Clomiphene is an anti-estrogen drug that you take at the beginning of your cycle.
- If clomiphene doesnât help with ovulation, you may be prescribed the diabetes drug metformin.
- If clomiphene and metformin donât work, your doctor may prescribe a medication containing a follicle-stimulating hormone and a luteinizing hormone . You get this medicine in a shot.
- One other drug that helps with ovulation is letrozole . Itâs sometimes used when other medications arenât effective.
If you have PCOS and you want to get pregnant, you should work with a doctor who is a specialist in reproductive medicine. This type of doctor is also known as a fertility specialist.
A specialist will help make sure you get the right dose of medicines, help with any problems you have, and schedule regular checkups and ultrasounds to see how youâre doing. .
Also Check: Can You Get Lasik When Pregnant
Chances Of Getting Pregnant With Pcos
If you are trying to get pregnant with PCOS, you may only need treatment with medications. A medical study found that almost 80 percent of women with PCOS treated with the drug clomiphene citrate successfully ovulated. Out of these, half of the women got pregnant naturally within six period cycles.
If medications dont help you get pregnant, your doctor may recommend IVF treatments. Most women with PCOS have a 20 to 40 percent chance of getting pregnant with IVF treatment. Women who are 35 years old and older or who are overweight have a lower chance of getting pregnant.
Pcos Makes It Difficult To Plan Timed Intercourse Or Insemination
If youre trying to conceive, youre likely tracking ovulation so that you can plan intercourse or insemination around your fertile window. For ovulation to occur, your brain has to produce LH and FSH , which then send signals to your ovaries. Dr. Conti refers to this as a smooth cycle of hormonal communication, ending with ovulation and a follicle releasing an egg each month to get fertilized.
When you have PCOS, that communication becomes fragmented, or never happens at all. This hiccup in the process means you cant ovulate regularly or release an egg 12 times a year. Someone with PCOS might only get a period every few months, or may have anovulatory cycles meaning you dont ovulate at all.This kind of irregular bleeding makes it difficult to conceive because you cant predict on your own when youre going to be in the fertile part of your cycle since you cant predict when youre going to ovulate, Dr. Conti says. If youre unsure whether or not you ovulate, you can assess common ovulatory signs such as egg-white discharge. Additionally, Dr. Zore explains, youre probably ovulating each month if your cycle is regularly between 21-35 days. If you have a longer cycle for example, you only get a period once every 2-4 months its harder to predict if/when you may be ovulating.
Don’t Miss: Can I Use Vagisil Wash While Pregnant
Getting Pregnant With Pcos: Ovulation Induction And Fertility Treatment Options
Navigating your fertility journey often starts with lots of planning, no matter what your situation is. But when you have a reproductive health condition like polycystic ovary syndrome , you may find yourself planning out more steps in your journey than youd anticipated.
PCOS is a very common hormonal disorder and a leading cause of infertility because of one of its hallmarks: irregular ovulation. While irregular ovulation can make getting pregnant trickier, you can work with your healthcare provider to build a medical plan and increase your chances of conception.We recently held a virtual PCOS panel with OB-GYN Dr. Jennifer Conti, MD, MS, MSc and reproductive endocrinologist Dr. Temeka Zore, MD, FACOG. Heres what we learned about trying to conceive when you have PCOS.
How Long Does It Take To Get Pregnant With Pcos
There are no guarantees when it comes to getting pregnant with or without PCOS, and there’s no specific time frame for when you’re likely to get pregnant after starting treatment for PCOS. If you haven’t yet been diagnosed with PCOS officially, many doctors will want you to try to get pregnant naturally for about a year before they start ordering tests to see if there is an underlying issue. However, if you are over the age of 35 or experiencing miscarriages, the doctor may not want to wait as long.
Don’t Miss: Can You Donate Plasma While Pregnant