Polycystic ovarian syndrome, or PCOS, is a hormonal condition in women wherein the ovaries produce above average levels of male hormones called androgens. PCOS affects a woman’s fertility, menstrual cycle, and even her appearance.
A woman who has PCOS may suffer from extremely painful periods. It also causes irregular, heavy, or painful periods that sometimes last for longer than the average span of menstrual cycles.
Women who experience PCOS tend to struggle to become pregnant, and have a higher chance of developing complications during pregnancy, labor, and even delivery. The good news is that by managing the symptoms of PCOS, many women can still become pregnant and deliver a healthy baby.
Here are the symptoms of PCOS that women need to manage:
- Irregular menstrual cycle. If your period does not have the same monthly cycle of 26 – 32 days, or if you get your period every few months or so, you fall under this category.
- Unexplained weight gain
- Excessive facial hair or body hair
- Thinning or balding hair on the head
- Cysts on the ovaries
- Resistance to insulin
Challenges of women with PCOS when it comes to pregnancy
Women who are trying to conceive and have PCOS need to be prepared for more than the usual worries that come along with a pregnancy. They are at a higher risk of having a miscarriage compared to a woman who does not have PCOS.
Women with PCOS are more at risk of:
- High blood pressure
- Have a larger baby
- Experience gestational diabetes
- Give birth prematurely
- Actual delivery may also become very difficult, and the baby may be forced to be delivered via cesarean section.
If you have PCOS and are pregnant, it is strongly recommended that you work with your health care provider to ensure a healthy pregnancy, safe labor, and delivery.
PCOS, when left untreated, can cause people to suffer Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, ovarian cancer, infertility, or heart disease.
Though PCOS cannot be cured, the symptoms can be managed to help a woman conceive. There are a variety of treatments available because every woman does not experience the same symptoms. One of the potential treatments is birth control. However, you must note that the chances of getting pregnant with PCOS and on birth control is zero. If you are trying to conceive, it is best to get another form of treatment.
Chances of getting pregnant with PCOS
One of the usual treatments suggested to women who are not trying to get pregnant and who have PCOS is the use of hormonal contraceptives. These help to address a few of the symptoms such acne, excess facial hair, as well as thinning hair on the head by lowering the male hormone in your blood.
Another symptom that it helps to address is the regulation of your ovulation. Failure to ovulate regularly increases the buildup of uterine tissue. If there is uterine tissue buildup, it increases the risk of uterine cancer. The hormonal contraceptive helps to ensure that this does not happen. However, since you are taking in contraceptives, you will still not conceive even if your ovulation has become regular.
If you have PCOS, but are not yet ready to have children by the age of 35, it is suggested that you consider freezing your eggs. This is so that should you decide to finally have kids, you will have a younger, healthier egg to use for in-vitro fertilization.
Increasing the chances of pregnancy with PCOS
An estimated 70% of women who have PCOS have difficulty getting pregnant. If you are interested in conceiving but have PCOS, it is advised that you consult a fertility specialist to check for specific treatments.
There are a range of medications that can boost your chances of becoming pregnant. You can also opt for injections or minor ovarian surgery, if this is something that is available and feasible for you.
There are two types of medication that is normally recommended for women with PCOS who want to get pregnant:
Consult your OB-GYN about these treatments to know if they are right for you. It is important to understand how these will affect your body and fertility.
A lifestyle change is also recommended for women with PCOS who want to become pregnant. One of the best things that you can do to prepare your body and minimize complications is to be in your best of health before you get pregnant.
Some foods that are recommended that you avoid to minimize the effects of PCOS:
- Refined carbohydrates such as white bread or muffins
- Inflammatory foods such as red meat or processed food
- Sugary snacks and drinks such as soda
PCOS, like many disorders, responds positively to better lifestyle choices that aim to protect one’s health. This means taking up habits that lessen stress, eating healthy, and taking up 150 minutes of exercise per week. Exercise is known to help reduce insulin resistance.
Having PCOS does not mean that getting pregnant is not possible. PCOS is a metabolism problem and a hormonal imbalance that is fairly common and treatable. You just need to combine a healthy lifestyle, exercise, right food choices, and medication to make it happen.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.