PCOS can have an impact on fertility, but there are ways that you can manage your fertility journey while also having PCOS. Continue reading to learn more about how you can manage PCOS and fertility.
How to Manage PCOS and Fertility: What is PCOS?
PCOS is a hormonal condition that affects 1 in 10 women of childbearing age in the world. PCOS is thought to be most often caused by a hormonal imbalance, with the male hormones in the body increasing to higher than normal levels. These male hormones, called androgens, can interfere with the menstrual cycle and consequently impact fertility. There are different types of PCOS, based on how it can be triggered in the body, and these are PCOS development after coming off the pill, PCOS caused by insulin-resistant body cells, chronic inflammation triggering PCOS and adrenal PCOS caused by high levels of stress.
The most common symptoms of PCOS include hair growth, irregular periods, cysts growing in the ovaries and weight gain, however 70% of women who suffer from PCOS are undiagnosed, and often, women will not be aware that they have PCOS until they face infertility.
How to Manage PCOS and Fertility: How Can PCOS Affect Fertility?
PCOS is caused due to an increase in the male androgen hormones. An increase of testosterone in the body can interfere with ovulation and prevent it from happening properly. If you don’t ovulate, you cannot get pregnant. These changed hormone levels can also cause irregularities in your menstrual cycle, resulting in difficulty conceiving.
Hormonal imbalance can also cause the lining of the uterus to not thicken properly in preparation for the implantation of a fertilised egg. If the egg is unable to implant into the lining of the uterus, it won’t develop properly.
Maturation and release of eggs
The hormonal imbalance caused by PCOS also affects the development of eggs in the ovaries. The imbalance interferes with both the growth and release of eggs from the ovaries, which has a knock-on effect on ovulation.
How to Manage PCOS and Fertility: Can Pregnancy Occur with PCOS?
Yes. People with PCOS have around a 20-30% chance of getting pregnant through IVF and the condition is treatable, so pregnancy is possible. There are also natural and medical treatments available to assist conceiving while being diagnosed with PCOS.
There are lifestyle changes and habits that you can adopt to help both manage the symptoms of PCOS and to increase your chances of getting pregnant. Changes in diet can help and this includes having an anti-inflammatory diet with an increased amount of iron, magnesium and fibre. To help get pregnant, consider cutting out foods high in sugar or unhealthy fats and incorporate foods like fresh and cooked vegetables and fruit, whole grains, chicken, fish and lentils. There are also vitamins that are important to consider when you are trying to get pregnant and these include vitamin B6, B12, C, D and E.
A side effect of PCOS can be high blood sugar levels due to the impact that PCOS has on your body’s use of insulin. Due to the risks associated with high blood sugar levels, it is important to get them tested when you are trying to get pregnant with PCOS. Blood sugar levels can also be regulated through a healthy diet and regular exercise, so finding a good exercise routine for you will also help.
You can also receive specific medications from your doctor to help get pregnant while being diagnosed with PCOS. It is important to talk to your doctor about the options that are available and what might be best for you. Medical options include metformin to balance insulin levels, birth control pills prior to starting fertility treatment to balance estrogen and testosterone levels, clomid to help balance estrogen levels or fertility medications, such as IVF or intrauterine insemination.