Getting Pregnant with PCOS: Why is it harder?

PCOS difficult pregnant

If you have received a diagnosis of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), you may have been informed that it can make it more difficult to become pregnant. While this can be true for some women, it is not impossible to conceive. If you are seeking guidance on how to get pregnant with PCOS, you have come to the right place. There are various methods, including lifestyle changes and established fertility treatments, that can increase your likelihood of becoming pregnant. With the assistance of a professor who specializes in obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences, let's explore these methods.

Why is getting pregnant with PCOS more difficult?

It is more difficult to get pregnant for some individuals with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) due to irregular ovulation or not ovulating at all. This hormonal disorder is prevalent among women of reproductive age, and it affects around one in ten women. The exact cause of PCOS is not yet known, but it may be more likely to develop if you have a family history of it or insulin resistance. PCOS can be diagnosed if an individual has two of the following three symptoms: irregular or missed periods, high levels of androgens, and polycystic ovaries. An egg that is released from the ovaries once a month is essential for pregnancy to happen. However, if an individual is not having regular periods, it means they are probably not ovulating regularly, and as a result, the likelihood of conception goes down. Additionally, PCOS may cause hormonal imbalances that alter the quality of cervical fluid, making it harder for sperm to survive. Being overweight may also play a role in hormonal disorders such as PCOS, which can impact fertility. For instance, being overweight is linked to anovulation, menstrual disorders, and difficulties with assisted reproduction.

“It was gut wrenching,” she recalls. “I have always had a motherly instinct, so when you’re told that it may never happen, it sends you on a downward spiral.”

How much harder is getting pregnant with PCOS?

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) affects approximately one in ten women of reproductive age, and between 70% to 80% of these women do not ovulate during their menstrual cycle, making it difficult for them to conceive during those months. However, with proper treatment, it is believed that most women with PCOS will eventually be able to get pregnant. Stephanie, a 35-year-old woman who had always wanted to be a mother, was diagnosed with PCOS after experiencing symptoms such as heavy and irregular cycles, stomach cramps, excessive hair growth, and weight gain. A scan revealed large cysts on her ovaries, and her health care provider informed her that it was highly unlikely that she would conceive naturally. Despite not actively trying to conceive at the time, Stephanie was placed on a contraceptive pill to regulate her menstrual cycle and referred to a weight specialist. Through these interventions, Stephanie eventually became pregnant when the time was right.

Is it possible to quickly get pregnant with PCOS?

It's natural to want to get pregnant quickly when you decide to have a baby. However, with PCOS, it can be more complex. Managing your health appropriately is crucial to increasing the likelihood of getting pregnant with PCOS. However, there is no set definition of what "quick" means, except for your own personal timeline. So, keep this in mind if you plan to start trying.

Pal says that with an improved lifestyle and weight loss over a few months, over 60% of people with PCOS can achieve spontaneous ovulation. If you have one egg and your partner's sperm is of high quality, success rates are similar to those of women without PCOS. Stephanie was able to conceive and is now a proud mother of a two-and-a-half-year-old son. She changed her lifestyle, including increasing her exercise and making dietary changes, with help from a weight specialist, to manage her symptoms. She now has a more regular cycle, a lighter flow, and her ovarian cysts have shrunk.

Although weight loss isn't always easy, even a 5% reduction in excess weight can improve the chances of getting pregnant. Medications such as letrozole or clomiphene may be recommended to help trigger ovulation if lifestyle changes are ineffective or not necessary. Intrauterine insemination (IUI), or artificial insemination, and in vitro fertilization (IVF) are additional fertility treatment options that may be recommended.

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