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PCOS and Getting Pregnant

01.11.2022 / Isabella Brown
PCOS and Getting Pregnant

What is PCOS?

PCOS is one of the most common causes of female infertility. It affects 6-12% of all women in the US. The condition affects a woman’s hormone levels, so that she produces higher than average male hormones. This imbalance causes many symptoms, such as irregular periods, hair growth on the face and body, baldness, and long term health problems like diabetes and heart disease. 

PCOS stands for polycystic ovarian syndrome. Women with PCOS often have many small, fluid filled sacs growing in their ovaries. The ovaries are responsible for producing estrogen and progesterone, (which regulate the menstrual cycle), and for releasing eggs. The three main symptoms of PCOS are cysts in the ovaries, high levels of male hormones, and irregular periods. 

PCOS and fertility 

PCOS can cause infertility because it creates an imbalance of reproductive hormones. For women with PCOS, ovulation may be very irregular. With PCOS, eggs may not develop as they should, or ovulation may not occur at all. Sometimes, ovulation can happen some months and not others. If you don’t ovulate, you can’t get pregnant. However, PCOS does not make pregnancy impossible.

Boosting your chances of pregnancy with PCOS

You can still get pregnant with PCOS. It’s one of the most common causes of infertility, but it is manageable and treatable. Here are some ways to reduce your PCOS symptoms, and improve your chances of pregnancy:

  • Diet and lifestyle changes. Losing just 5-10% of your body weight can improve PCOS symptoms. Weight loss can help regulate the menstrual cycle, and improve your hormone balance. It can also help to lower insulin and reduce the risks for diabetes and heart disease.
  • Track your cycle to understand when or if you’re ovulating. Learning about your cycle and hormone trends will provide you with the information that you need to reach your goals. Because people with PCOS have irregular hormone levels, it’s important to use a quantitative test that lets you see your unique baseline levels and fluctuations. 
  • Medications. Medicine such as metformin and clomid can help to reduce PCOS symptoms, and better your chances for pregnancy.  
  • Fertility treatments. If lifestyle changes and at-home methods are not working for you, it may be time to pursue medical intervention. Fertility treatments such as IVF and IUI’s can be a great option for those who aren’t seeing the results they want. If you’re having trouble conceiving, you could consider asking your doctor about the first steps in pursuing fertility treatments.

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