Getting pregnant with PCOS - Know the Challenges and success rate
Created by Ambili S Kartha Updated on Oct 28, 2017
There are several conditions that make conception a difficult task. PCOS or Polycystic ovarian syndrome is the most common cause of female infertility. As indicated by a March 2008 "Fertility and Sterility" article, PCOS affects 5 to 10 percent of women of reproductive age. In spite of the fact that PCOS makes conceiving more challenging, this condition does not mean that the conceiving is impossible. Fortunately, women with PCOS have a range of fertility treatment options that help them to get pregnant and have a healthy baby. This article will help you to understand how the lifestyle changes and treatments boost the probability of a woman with PCOS to get pregnant and have a healthy baby.
What is PCOS?
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a very common, yet, a chronic hormone imbalance condition that affects 5% to 10% of women in the age group ranging from 12 to 45 years. This covers the entire childbearing age of a woman. PCOS can impact on a woman’s fertility, her menstruation, weight maintenance, appearance and even tamper with the insulin production.
How PCOS Affect The Fertility Of A Woman?
Let's see how ovulation occurs in a normal woman The ovaries make female sex hormones - estrogen and progesterone and a tiny amount of male sex hormones – androgens and the pituitary gland produce luteinizing hormone. These hormones help to regulate the normal development of eggs in the ovaries during each menstrual cycle. Eggs usually develop inside the follicles, which are tiny fluid-filled sacs in the ovaries. Once the egg matures enough, the follicle will rupture and discharge the egg. This process is called ovulation.
Polycystic ovary syndrome is associated with the imbalance of these sex hormones. Instead of tiny amounts of male sex hormone, the ovaries of women with PCOS produce high levels of androgen (male sex hormone). Androgen stops the eggs in these follicles from maturing and breaking open and releasing (anovulation). This result in irregular or absent periods. These fluid-filled follicles then remain in the ovaries as cysts (hence the name poly cystic ovary). The cysts in ovaries make the conceiving further difficult.
What Causes PCOS?
The exact cause of PCOS is not known. However, the following factors have been linked to the condition.
- Genetics: Polycystic ovary syndrome is more prevalent among family members than among general population. This suggests that genes play a vital role in the development of PCOS
- Elevated insulin levels: The insulin level is noticeably elevated among (around 50 – 70%) the women who are experiencing PCOS. Therefore, probably insulin production can be linked with PCOS
- High level of androgen: Elevated insulin levels, in turn, appear to increase androgen (male hormone) production which hinders with the ovulation
- Obesity: The overweight women are at greater risk for PCOS
- Unhealthy lifestyle: Unhealthy lifestyle like fast food, sugary carbohydrates, sleep deprivation, and less physical activities contributes PCOS
What Are The Symptoms Of PCOS?
Some of the significant signs of PCOS include:
- Irregular period: Irregular period is a significant symptom of PCOS. PCOS can cause missed periods, periods in excessive intervals, or even more frequent periods like periods more often come in less than 21 days
- Weight gain: As the body of the women with PCOS develops insulin intolerance, more sugar is stored as fat. This results in weight gain and the weight loss of a PCOS woman will not be as easy as with a normal woman
- Acne: Unlike common acne that appears in teen and during the monthly period, PCOS-related acne tends to flare in parts that are usually considered hormone sensitive area like lower third of the face. This includes the chin, cheeks, jawline, and upper neck. Acne can also appear in the chest and upper back
- Excessive hair growth: Excessive facial and chest hair growth can be connected to PCOS. Hair growth is noticed in stomach and back too. This shows the increases level of male hormone
- Hair thinning: Thinning of hair in the scalp because of excessive hair fall can be connected with PCOS
- Skin pigmentation: Skin becoming darker, especially in the groin area, in the folds of the neck and the upper arms indicating high insulin level can also be a sign of PCOS
What Are The Challenges To Getting Pregnant With PCOS?
As already mentioned, getting pregnant with PCOS is possible, but it is challenging too. Some of the significant issues that stands between getting pregnant are:
- Women with PCOS experience irregular ovulation and menstruation. Therefore, it is not possible to foresee when they are ovulating or even if they are ovulating at all. This is the main challenge to conceive
- Because of the irregular hormonal cycles, the endometrium of the uterus will be affected. The endometrium will not be thick enough for implantation even if the woman ovulates
- These fluid-filled follicles then remain in the ovaries as cysts and hinder with the pregnancy
How To Get Pregnant With PCOS?
Having PCOS does not mean you can never be conceived and have a baby of your own. Even though PCOS is one of the most common causes of infertility, it is treatable as well. By following a healthy lifestyle, and undergoing appropriate treatment (there are both natural and medical treatments or combo, which is opted depending on different factors like age of the woman, the severity of the condition, etc.) the ovulation can be boosted, thereby, increasing the probability of the conception.Here are some steps that will help to get pregnant with PCOS.
- Regulate ovulation before trying to get pregnant: Medicines you are taking to deal with your PCOS can be unsafe while using in the course of pregnancy. Therefore, take steps to regulate the hormone levels way before you try to get pregnant.
- Chart your period: Irregular period is the main symptom of PCOS. Irregular period means irregular ovulation. With the help of an over-the-counter ovulation test or basal body temperature thermometer find the days you ovulate. If you think you are not ovulating, consult a reproductive endocrinologist without delay.
- Medication: If the endocrinologist finds out that your assumption ( that you are not ovulating )is correct, he will take further steps to achieve the following goals.
- Lowering blood sugar level: It is important to bring down the high insulin level of PCOS patients. High insulin levels produce high androgen levels, which bring about the irregular period. Drugs like Metformin is used to reduce high insulin levels, thereby helps to regulate the ovulation cycle
- Restore fertility: A drug called Clomid is used along with (or without) Metformin to restore the fertility. Clomid is an infertility drug that encourages the production of hormones that stimulate ovulation.The combination of Clomid with Metformin is found to accomplish pregnancy faster than by simply using metformin alone. Letrozole, a drug that increases the production of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) is also used to increase the rate of ovulation
- Stimulate egg production: Women with PCOS who don't react to Clomid treatment can take advantage of the Gonadotropins treatment. Gonadotropins are naturally occurring hormones that activate the ovaries to discharge one or more eggs
- Lose weight: Losing weight with PCOS is a challenge. However, losing weight improves the chances of a successful pregnancy for a PCOS patient. A recent study found that losing around 10 percent of body weight alone can highly influence the possibility of getting pregnant. Losing weight helps the woman to respond better to fertility treatments. Regular exercise is often recommended for women with PCOS who are trying to conceive
- Healthy diet: PCOS increase the risk for insulin resistance. A diet that is high in protein and fiber can help to bring down your insulin levels. Depend more on Foods with a low Glycemic Load, which release their glucose more slowly
- Be watchful throughout pregnancy: If you managed to get pregnant after fighting against all the challenges posed by PCOS, you should be vigilant throughout your pregnancy. Women with PCOS have a higher risk of pregnancy complications like miscarriage, pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, premature delivery, etc. Never miss the routine check-ups and scheduled appointments with the doctor
- Pursue a healthy lifestyle: Follow a healthy lifestyle. Make exercise part of the daily routine. Avoid alcohol, smoking, carbonated drinks and fast foods. Restrict the caffeine intake
- Medical support: Seek maximum medical support. Try to consult a gynecologist who is specialized in treating PCOD before, throughout and after the pregnancy
Is It Possible To Have A Normal Delivery Post Getting Treated For PCOs?
Yes, it is quite possible to have a normal delivery post getting treated for PCOs. In fact your doctor will guide you through your pregnancy and may also advice to try for conception as soon as possible. However, you need to take proper care throughout your pregnancy and exercise is a must during pregnancy.
Did you like the blog on getting pregnant with PCOs? Did you or are you facing any challenges in getting pregnant with PCOs? Do share your views and feedback in the comments section below.
| Oct 29, 2017
PCOs is a major cause of infertility. this blog would definitely help women who are trying to conceive.. thanks for sharing!!
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