If you have PCOS, you already know that getting pregnant is probably going to be a bit more challenging for than for most other people. In fact, PCOS is the most common cause of female infertility. However, it doesn't mean conceiving a child is impossible. In order uncover how to get pregnant with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), first let's understand what is going on in your body.
PCOS is a condition where a woman's body produces high levels of certain hormones called androgens, which are primarily found in men, even though women also naturally make a small amount. Excess amounts of male hormones in the female body affect the development and release of a mature egg during ovulation. This can cause missed or irregular periods, as well as painful cysts (fluid-filled sacs) within the ovaries. All of these situations make it difficult to get pregnant with PCOS.
About one in every 10 women who are within childbearing age have PCOS. The primary cause of PCOS is as yet unknown, but a genetic component is very likely, as women who have PCOS are likely to have close female relative who also has the condition.
Another huge part of understanding PCOS has to do with understanding insulin, a very potent hormone. Insulin is the primary hormone that allows glucose from carbohydrates, starches, and sugars to enter body cells. Women who have PCOS typically have higher insulin levels, which can result in an increase in androgen production. Some of the symptoms of high androgen levels include acne, weight gain, irregular ovulation, and excessive hair growth. Lower progesterone levels – a female hormone that complements estrogen – can also cause menstrual irregularity that can change your ability to get pregnant with PCOS.
How to get pregnant with PCOS
Many women who have PCOS are overweight. Extra body weight can cause major health problems, but exercising and eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy products, lean meats and fiber-rich grains and legumes can help your reach a healthy weight. Try skipping foods with added sugars and high carbohydrate foods like potatoes, white pasta, and white rice. Instead of a cookie or a candy bar for a snack, swap in a sliced apple with 4 low fat cheese cubes.
How much weight do I have to lose to get pregnant with PCOS?
Most physicians recommend losing at least 10% of body weight to help restore regularity with periods. That means if you weigh 200 pounds, losing just 20 pounds can increase your likelihood of becoming pregnant with PCOS. Losing weight can also help reduce your circulating insulin levels, which may help reduce the amount of androgens produced within your body. This can all lead to lessening the severity of your PCOS, which in turn can help you become pregnant with PCOS.
Medications to help you get pregnant with PCOS
Because insulin levels can often be elevated with PCOS, diabetes medications have been helpful in treating PCOS symptoms. Metformin in particular can help regulate the effects of insulin in the body and lower testosterone production within the female body. Recent research has shown metformin may also help people lose weight and improve their cholesterol levels.
Fertility medications may also increase the chances of becoming pregnant with PCOS. Commonly used medications include Clomiphene, metformin, and gonadotropin shots. These all help to balance hormones and make proper egg development and release more likely each month. One of the most important things for women with PCOS is to make sure they are eating a balanced diet, and aiming for a healthy body weight Exercise, reducing alcohol intake, and losing weight can all help you get pregnant with PCOS.