How Does Pcos Affect Your Fertility
While it can be difficult for some women to become pregnant with PCOS, plenty of people do it may just take longer to conceive naturally. x
Even so, PCOS is one of the main causes of infertility in women who do struggle to get pregnant. This is because women with PCOS have higher levels of hormones called androgens, which are produced by the ovaries. This can disrupt the balance of hormones in your body, affecting ovulation and causing the other symptoms associated with PCOS – such as excess hair, adult acne, insulin resistance and weight gain. Your menstrual cycle is disrupted if eggs arent released regularly, and that can mean fewer periods .
That said, studies show that 1 in 4 women with PCOS still have regular periods and ovulate as usual. But even if this isnt the case for you, its still possible to get pregnant either naturally or with medical assistance.
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 menopause. 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.
Top Tips On How To Get Pregnant With Pcos Quickly
Whatever your reason, whether it is advancing age or just excitement, most people dont want to spend months taking pregnancy tests when trying to get pregnant. If you have been diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome , then you will know that it can take longer for some women with PCOS to get pregnant. To give yourself the best possible chance of getting pregnant fast with PCOS, read on for some quick tips.
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Getting Pregnant With Pcos Twice 12 Years Apart
When youre told at 19 years old that youre probably never going to have a baby, and then you meet the love of your lifethats so hard, Heather says of learning about her slim chance of getting pregnant. Luckily, I met a man who was okay with however it played out.
It began with bad luck, when Heather was diagnosed with a serious case of polycystic ovary syndrome while she was still a teenager. PCOS is a hormonal disorder that affects up to 10 percent of women of reproductive age. Getting pregnant with PCOS can be difficult, and it is a common cause of infertility in women because it interferes with ovulation.
Young, in love and unwilling to give up, Heather and her husband, Michael, decided to see if infertility treatment would give them a chance at starting a family. In 2003 Heather scheduled an appointment with Dr. Carol Wheeler.
Dr. Wheeler did an ultrasound to see what my follicles looked like to confirm that I had PCOS, Heather explains. Not only did they check me, but they checked my husband as well.
What Are The Chances Of Getting Pregnant With Pcos
While there are no hard and fast stats on the chances of getting pregnant with PCOS, about 70 percent of women with the condition struggle to get pregnant. This is likely because they arent ovulating, are ovulating sporadically, or don’t have enough progesterone naturally to support a pregnancy in its early stages.
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How To Naturally Increase Chances Of Getting Pregnant With Pcos
PCOS symptoms are typically more severe for those who are overweight or obese. Being overweight can contribute to ovulatory dysfunction. Some overweight women have an ovulatory deficiency that may not be as severe or occur at all if they were a normal weight. As such, some women are mistakenly lumped into the PCOS category. For these women, weight loss will improve their chances of getting pregnant naturally. Please note, this is not always the case as PCOS can cause some women to gain weight.
Women with PCOS are often insulin resistant, meaning their bodies can make insulin, but they cant use it effectively. This increases women with PCOSs chances of developing type 2 diabetes. In fact, more than 50% of women with PCOS develop type 2 diabetes by the age of 40. Women with PCOS who are overweight are also at risk of developing serious health conditions like gestational diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.
It is extremely important for women with PCOS to be cognizant of their weight and health prior to, during, and after pregnancy. Making changes to your diet, exercise, and taking supplements can help to naturally mitigate health risks and increase your chances of getting pregnant with PCOS.
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.
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Be An Informed Fertility Patient If You Need Treatment
Thankfully for the families in need, reproductive technology has advanced a long way beyond telling people to just relax and it will happen. This was always a pet peeve of mine during my four and a half years of trying to conceive.
When I first went to get fertility treatments, I really didnt understand what my options were. I was at the mercy of the doctors I would see, and looking back now, I dont necessarily think they were as well-informed as I wouldve preferred. This is not intended as a slight towards the profession at all, but many general practitioners, and even some OB/Gyns dont get the chance to be as versed in the intricacies of PCOS as theyd like either. The value of good nutrition specifically for the treatment of PCOS is often not part of your standard medical education, which is why it always pays to know as much as you can about this topic yourself. The best weapon that an informed patient can wield is good information obtained through high quality self-education.
Here are the basics of the standard PCOS fertility treatment options:
The first options for most fertility specialists that treat women with PCOS are metformin and clomid.
To learn more on this topic, please see my five reasons not to take metformin for PCOS.
Its worth noting here that many experts now believe that doctors should skip the first step and head straight for letrozole as this drug has been shown to result in better outcomes for women with PCOS .
Getting Pregnant With Pcos
If youre diagnosed with PCOS, it doesnt mean you can’t get pregnant. Most women with PCOS become pregnant. But they may take longer than women without PCOS.
The following lifestyle changes can help you naturally increase your chances of getting pregnant with PCOS:
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Monitor your ovulation and menstrual periods
- Have sexual intercourse a few days before or during ovulation
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Is Pcos Linked To Other Health Problems
Yes, studies have found links between PCOS and other health problems, including:
- Diabetes. More than half of women with PCOS will have diabetes or prediabetes before the age of 40.4 Learn more about diabetes on our Diabetes page.
- High blood pressure. Women with PCOS are at greater risk of having high blood pressure compared with women of the same age without PCOS. High blood pressure is a leading cause of heart disease and stroke. Learn more about heart disease and stroke.
- Unhealthy cholesterol. Women with PCOS often have higher levels of LDL cholesterol and low levels of HDL cholesterol. High cholesterol raises your risk of heart disease and stroke.
- Sleep apnea. This is when momentary and repeated stops in breathing interrupt sleep. Many women with PCOS have overweight or obesity, which can cause sleep apnea. Sleep apnea raises your risk of heart disease and diabetes.
- Depression and anxiety.Depression and anxiety are common among women with PCOS.
- Endometrial cancer. Problems with ovulation, obesity, insulin resistance, and diabetes increase the risk of developing cancer of the endometrium .
Researchers do not know if PCOS causes some of these problems, if these problems cause PCOS, or if there are other conditions that cause PCOS and other health problems.
How Can Pcos Affect Pregnancy
Having PCOS, especially if it is untreated, can increase your chances of miscarriage. This is because women with PCOS have lower levels of the hormone progesterone, which is responsible for ensuring the endometrium lining is thick enough to support the implantation and growth of an embryo. Progesterone is also needed post-implantation for the embryo to continue to grow and develop until around weeks 1012, when the placenta takes over the production of progesterone. This means low levels of progesterone can increase your risk of an early miscarriage, possibly even before you know for sure that you’re pregnant.
Having PCOS, especially if it is untreated, can increase your chances of miscarriage. Women with PCOS have lower levels progesterone, which is responsible for ensuring the endometrium lining is thick enough to support the implantation and growth of an embryo.
PCOS can also increase your chances of gaining too much weight during the pregnancy and developing gestational diabetes because your body doesnt respond to insulin as it should. To combat this, your doctor may recommend that you follow a diabetic-style diet during pregnancy and have extra monitoring to ensure that your weight and the baby’s growth are on track.
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Getting Pregnant With Pcos: Where To Start
Knowing where to start can make the process of conceiving with PCOS feel less nerve-wracking. Here are some initial steps you can take if you are ready to get pregnant with PCOS.
- Make an appointment with your OB/GYN. The best place to start is with your doctor. He or she will be able to assess your individual situation and provide you with the very best advice for you and your pregnancy.
- Create a treatment plan. Together with your doctor, create a treatment plan to manage your PCOS. This plan may incorporate both medications and lifestyle changes.
- Build healthy habits. If your doctor advises you to lose weight, start by making small, sustainable changes. For example, meal planning/prepping, regular walking, and swapping out sugary drinks with water are all great first steps towards a healthier lifestyle.
- Time sex with ovulation. If you are trying to conceive naturally, make sure to have sex with your partner during your most fertile days of your cycle.
- Hormone tracking. To better understand your cycle, start tracking your hormone concentrations with Mira. This can help you to accurately predict ovulation and plan sex around your fertile window.
When Should You Take A Pregnancy Test With Pcos
With or without PCOS, it can take several days to a week after conception for your hormone levels to rise enough to be detected on a home pregnancy test. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on your test, but generally it’s best to wait about a week after your missed period. If you have irregular or missed periods because of PCOS, you may want to track your ovulation and conception attempts, taking tests accordingly about two to three weeks after conception.
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Weight Loss To Restart Ovulation
Many women with PCOS struggle with obesity. This is because PCOS negatively affects how your body processes insulin, which can, in turn, cause weight gain.
One of the main reasons women with PCOS cant conceive is they dont ovulate, or they dont ovulate regularly. Women with PCOS who are overweight are more likely to experience more severe anovulation, going months between periods.
Studies have found that losing some weight may bring back ovulation. According to the research, losing 5% to 10% of current weight may be enough to jump-start menstrual cycles.
Unfortunately, theres not much evidence that losing weight will help you conceive on your own. You may still need fertility drugs. Research has found that women who have lost weight have a great chance of having fertility treatment success.
Losing weight isnt easy for anybody, and it may be even more difficult for those with PCOS. Also, not all women with PCOS are overweight. If that’s your situation, weight loss isn’t a solution to help with fertility.
Factors That Can Boost Fertility
Fertility-boosting measures, like changing your diet, taking nutritional supplements, or increasing your physical activity can make your body healthier and help you have a healthier pregnancy. If you’re overweight, weight loss that’s associated with healthy eating can be an effective tool to help your fertility.
Some studies have shown that women who live a healthier lifestyle have more regular periods and as a result, have increased rates of conception.
You Are At The Right Place
After twice getting pregnant with PCOS as a result of treatment with Dr. Carol Wheeler, Heather hopes her story raises awareness of the syndrome and the available treatments.
A lot of people dont even know what PCOS is, Heather says with a laugh. A lot of people assume that fertility treatment means IVF, but thats not always the case.
You dont realize how many people are facing infertility until you are going through it yourself and you see how many people there are in the clinic. And everybody is there for the same thing. When you find out you are expecting, you just want to hug everybody in there and say, You are at the right place!
How To Get Pregnant With Pcos And Irregular Periods
If you have irregular periods, it can be challenging to know what your fertile window is, aka the only time of the month when you can get pregnant.
So if you have an irregular period, use a tracker to help you chart when your window opens up.
Because each womans cycle is different, there is no one-and-done day. However, aim to have sex in the two to three days before your period is supposed to start.
Continue to eat a balanced diet that excludes processed food and get regular exercise so your body can release necessary hormones.
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When To Seek Medical Help
It’s normal to need help getting pregnant with PCOS. If you’re struggling with infertility and have been trying to get pregnant for more than a year, PCOS may be the cause. If you think you may have PCOS or are experiencing symptoms like irregular periods, excess facial hair, and difficulty losing weight, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor. They can run blood tests and do an ultrasound to see if PCOS is the issue and advise you on ways to control your PCOS and increase your chances of getting pregnant. Bring in any charts you have of your cycles as well as a list of possible PCOS symptoms that notes their onset dates and severity including mental health issues like depression and anxiety that can also be caused by PCOS. Doing so can help your doctor make an accurate diagnosis.
If you think you may have PCOS or are experiencing symptoms like irregular periods, excess facial hair, and difficulty losing weight, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor.
If you’re having difficulty getting pregnant with PCOS, you’re not alone. While PCOS can cause changes in your body that make it harder to get and stay pregnant, there are treatment options available. Talking to your health care provider is the first step in finding out what you can do to improve your chances of conceiving and successfully carrying a pregnancy to term.
The Need For Medication
Healthy ovulation is affected by high levels of androgens. A healthy egg should be released during ovulation for successful conception. Hence, many women have to rely on medication for ovulation. These medications help you to ovulate regularly so that you can get pregnant. Approach your doctor or a fertility specialist to find out the best medicine and dosage for yourself.
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Medications For Menstrual Irregularities
Hormonal contraceptive pills are prescribed for irregular or absent periods to regulate or induce menstruation. Progestogen tablets are also suggested monthly or every three to four months to induce menstruation.
Other hormonal methods of contraception, such as the intrauterine system , can help induce periods and keep the endometrial lining thin. These medications also lower the risk of endometrial cancers associated with irregular periods.
Medications For Fertility Problems
Most women with PCOS can conceive and have a successful pregnancy with adequate treatment. Short-term courses of medications at the beginning of cycles for several cycles are prescribed to induce ovulation. Fertility treatments in women with PCOS may include:
- Clomiphene citrate is the first medication used to treat infertility in women with PCOS. This medication stimulates the release of eggs from the ovaries . Sometimes this can be combined with metformin, a medication that lowers insulin levels in the blood. However, it is approved for treating women with insulin resistance, sometimes prescribed for others to promote fertility and to control PCOS symptoms.
- Letrozole is a medication prescribed to stimulate This is also a medication approved for treating breast cancer, not PCOS. However, some off-label use is permitted if the benefits outweigh the risks.
- Gonadotropin injections or in vitro fertilization methods are recommended if a woman fails to conceive after a course of tablets. This may increase the risk of multiple pregnancies, such as twin pregnancies or more.
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