Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is a condition wherein the body produces higher levels of the male hormone androgen, which prevents the ovarian follicles from breaking open and releasing the eggs. This results in irregular or absent periods. Meanwhile, the fluid within the ovarian follicles continue to accumulate and form cysts, making it extremely difficult to the woman to ovulate. Today, PCOS is one of the most common conditions affecting women all over the world. If a couple is trying to conceive, but the woman is suffering from PCOS, it is important that you both know how the condition affects conception and pregnancy.
A variety of factors go into causing this syndrome. These include genetics i.e. the condition has been running in the family since generations, and excess insulin – studies have found a direct correlation between PCOS and high insulin levels. Excess insulin in the body has been found to increase production of the hormone androgen, which prevents ovulation.
Unfortunately, PCOS cannot be cured. But it can be controlled with the help of medications, a healthy diet, and regular exercise. These will help you bring your hormone levels back to normal and regulate your menstrual cycle. Ideally, you should be consulting with an endocrinologist for the medications and appropriate lifestyle changes. If you’re trying to conceive, you will have to give up birth control, but make sure you discuss this with the doctor.
Research has found that women suffering from PCOS are likely to be obese, and obese women are at a greater risk of getting PCOS. Either way, obesity is something that can cause several complications not only during conception, but also when you’re pregnant.
Women with PCOS are three times likelier to miscarry, as well as develop gestational diabetes (diabetes developed during pregnancy), heart diseases and preeclampsia (i.e. high blood pressure and swelling in the face, hands and feet developed during pregnancy).
Moms suffering from PCOS are also more likely to undergo C-section during childbirth.
PCOS may make pregnancy complicated, but it’s not impossible. A lot of women suffering from the condition have given birth to perfectly healthy normal babies. However, this requires strict discipline in health and lifestyle, under the supervision of your doctor.
If you’re trying to conceive, make sure you discuss it with your endocrinologist and/or obstetrician first. You will be prescribed fertility medications to induce ovulation, such as – metformin, clomiphene citrate, gonadotrophins and letrozole. If medicines don’t work, doctors often recommend surgery on a part of the ovaries so that they produce fewer androgens, and increase ovulation.
One of the first things any doctor will recommend with regards to suppressing PCOS is to maintain a healthy weight. This will call for a proper exercise regimen and a healthy diet full of wholesome foods. As mentioned earlier, keeping a check on your weight will regulate the hormone levels as well as ensure successful conception. Include Vitamin D supplements in your daily regimen too.
A 2014 by the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology found that eating a spoonful of cinnamon every day can regulate insulin levels, normalise menstrual cycle and boost your chances of conception. You can either have cinnamon by itself or add it to your oatmeal or coffee.
With proper care, discipline and guidance from a trusted medical professional, it is entirely possible to conceive, have a and give birth to a healthy baby. Make sure you discuss your options and plan thoroughly with your doctor. All the best!
If you have any questions regarding conception and pregnancy, let us know in the comments.