Yes, Women with PCOS Can Get Pregnant
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) can be linked with fertility problems. Fortunately, women with PCOS have several fertility treatment options that may help them get pregnant and have a healthy baby.
Polycystic ovary syndrome is a common hormonal imbalance that can cause many different symptoms including the following:
- Ovarian cysts
- High levels of insulin
- Excessive amounts of male hormones
- Ovulation and menstrual problems
- Fertility problems
- Weight gain
- Excess body and facial hair or male pattern baldness
- Anxiety and depression
Due to abnormal hormone levels with PCOS, your eggs may not develop properly and may not fully ripen. This can lead to ovulation disorders and infertility. If you have irregular menstrual cycles or are having trouble getting pregnant, ask your doctor about PCOS infertility testing and treatment.
PCOS infertility treatment
If you have PCOS and are trying to get pregnant, the following fertility drug treatments may be helpful.
Metformin (Glucophage). To reduce high insulin levels and stabilize your hormones, your doctor may prescribe a medication called metformin. After taking metformin, your ovulation cycles may become more regular.
Clomid (clomiphene citrate). Your doctor may also prescribe the fertility drug clomid to help you conceive, with or without metformin. The combination of clomid with metformin often helps women with PCOS get pregnant more quickly than by just using metformin alone. Some women with PCOS may require a very high dose of Clomid to restore fertility, which can sometimes cause uncomfortable side effects.
Gonadotropins. Gonadotropins are naturally occurring hormones that stimulate your ovaries to release one or more eggs. This medication may help you ovulate if you are not ovulating regularly. Women with PCOS that do not respond to Clomid treatment may benefit from fertility drug treatment with gonadotropins.
If you have PCOS and do not respond to low doses of Clomid, your doctor may also recommend in vitro fertilization (IVF).
PCOS weight loss infertility treatment
If you have PCOS, you may already be struggling with weight problems and infertility. One of the best natural therapies you can do to boost fertility with PCOS is to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. While a 10 percent reduction in body weight can make a big difference in helping you get pregnant, many women with PCOS find it harder to lose weight than other women.
PCOS fertility diet
Polycystic ovary syndrome can also increase your risk for insulin resistance, which can sometimes lead to type 2 diabetes and other health problems. Eating too many processed carbohydrates may increase your risk for insulin resistance but changes to your diet may help. Try reducing your consumption of processed carbohydrates, replacing them with whole grains and foods high in dietary fiber. Ask your doctor about a PCOS fertility diet and exercise plan that can help you lose weight, improve insulin levels, and boost fertility.
When to seek help
It can be challenging at times, but many women with PCOS are able to have healthy pregnancies. If you have PCOS and are trying to get pregnant, talk to a fertility specialist. Ask about fertility charting methods that may help you speed up the time to conception. Fertility charting methods include checking your basal body temperature (BBT) and cervical mucus on a daily basis.
If you have a mild case of PCOS, your chances of conceiving and having a baby may be quite high. If you have a more severe form of PCOS, you may still be able to get pregnant and have children. Discuss PCOS fertility treatment options with your doctor to find out how to have a safe and healthy pregnancy. Discuss your health concerns with your doctor and ask about the possible risks and complications of getting pregnant with PCOS.
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- The American Fertility Association
- Bruce, D, Thatcher, S., Berg, B. Making a Baby. New York: Random House, 2010.
- Harvard School of Public Health: Carbohydrates
- The National Women's Health Information Center: Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: PCOS.