How To Get Pregnant With PCOS
Getting pregnant with PCOS can be quite tough but possible. PCOS is a leading cause of infertility in women. Some women who have PCOS do ovulate regularly while some do not ovulate at all.
Without ovulation pregnancy is not possible. For you to really learn how you can conceive with polycystic ovarian syndrome. You need a good understanding of PCOS itself.
What is PCOS?
PCOS also known as polycystic ovarian syndrome is a medical condition in which the female sex hormone level are not in balance.
A woman's menstrual cycle is controlled by two main sex hormones estrogen and progesterone.
Having an imbalance of estrogen and progesterone hormone causes a cyst to grow on the ovaries. The cysts is called ovarian cysts.
Ovarian cysts are fluid filled sacs that grows on a woman's ovaries and they also develop inside the ovary.
1 in 20 of every women in their reproductive years have PCOS. So it is a quite common condition.
CAUSES OF PCOS
So what exactly causes pcos?. Although the main cause of PCOS is still unknown. But doctors suggest imbalance of hormones and genes are the culprits.
1. Hormonal Imbalance
Women with PCOS have an imbalance or abnormal levels of hormones. The hormones responsible are:
High levels of androgen hormone (testosterone): Testosterone is an androgen hormone and it is one of the sex hormones. It is responsible for male characteristics and features such as body and facial hair growth, and deep voice. Excessive levels of androgen hormone in women causes polycystic ovarian syndrome. All women have little amount of this androgen hormone which is fine but an excess of it is not good.
High levels of luteinising hormone: LH is the hormone that triggers ovulation and causes corpus luteum to develop. An excessive high levels of LH can disrupt ovulation and affect the ovaries as well.
Low level of sex hormone-binding globulin(SHBG): SHBG is a protein that binds 2 sex hormones that is found in men and women estrogen and androgen (testosterone). The main function of SHBG is to transport this sex hormones through your blood to other tissues in your body. If the normal levels of sex hormone-binding globulin decreases, there is a high risk of developing polycystic ovarian syndrome.
High Level of Proclatin: In some women, the pituitary gland produces excess proclatin for reasons unknown. Proclatin is a hormone that causes lactation in women who are breastfeeding. Some other causes of excessive proclatin are pregnancy, kidney disease, disease of the liver and hypothyroidism.
2. Insulin resistance
Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas. The purpose of insulin is to transfer sugar out of the blood and move it into other cells in the body. The sugar stored is then converted into fats or into energy. This is a very complex process. And when the process doesn't function like it is meant to, it is called insulin resistance. The pancreas of people with insulin resistance produce excessive insulin. Excessive insulin gets rid of sugar in the blood. Insulin resistance is very common in women with PCOS.
Researches have linked genetics to PCOS. And genetics plays a major role in if a girl will develop PCOS later in life.
If your mother, aunty or sister has PCOS, there is a high probability that you may also develop it.
The genes responsible for PCOS are yet to be identified.
HOW TO GET PREGNANT WITH PCOS
1. Diet Changes
Carbohydrate is a major source of fuel for the body. The body breaks down carbs into sugar called glucose. And this is transported through the blood streams into cells.
People with PCOS produce excessive insulin which eliminates glucose from the blood instead of transporting them to the tissues that need them.
A diet that is high in carbohydrate or starchy foods can cause insulin to be resistant.
Women with PCOS are advised to eat foods that have a low glycemic index such as beans, fruits, vegetables, milk, porridge, pasta and lentils.
These low GI foods digest slowly and release sugar into the blood at a slow rate. Foods high in GI such as potatoes, bread and short grain rice digest quickly, therefore releasing sugar into the blood quicker. This causes lots of over excessive insulin to be produced in people.
Thereby disrupting their menstrual and reproductive cycle making it harder to conceive.
One of the effective ways of managing PCOS is through exercise. Exercise helps to improve the sensitivity of insulin, ovulation frequency, healthy body composition.
Exercise helps to reduce the need of insulin in converting glucose to energy.
Exercise converts glucose from the blood into muscle mass without the need for insulin thereby reducing the sensitivity of insulin in people with PCOS.
It is advisable to combine both Cardio and strength training in a 150 minutes exercise per week.
Examples of exercise you can start doing are: Zumba, pilates, yoga, aerobic classes, swimming and hiking.
3. Weight Loss
Over 50% of women who have PCOS struggle with their weight. This is because insulin resistance causes more weight to be gained due to excessive fat storage.
The first step in getting ready for pregnancy if you do have PCOS is to loose weight
By following a PCOS diet and exercising for 150 minutes per week, you should notice improvement in your menstrual cycle and body composition.
3. Fertility Drugs
Your doctor may prescribe fertility treatment for you if you do not ovulate regularly or you have an ovulation disorder.
Here are some of the examples of fertility drugs for treating PCOS infertility problems:
Clomid (Clomiphene Citrate):
Clomid is a fertility drug that helps women to ovulate. It is used also for women with PCOS who do not ovulate monthly. Your doctor may prescribe clomid with or without another fertility drug called metformin.
Metformin is a medicine used in treating diabetes. It helps to reduce insulin levels that are high and also helps to balance hormonal issues. Metformin is usually prescribed with clomid to help get pregnant faster if you have PCOS.
Gonadotropin are given to women who have tried using clomiphene but failed to ovulate or their body did not react to it. Gonadotropins are hormones that instructs the ovaries to release one or multiple eggs.
Symptoms of PCOS
Not all women experience the same symptoms when they have PCOS.
Most times women do not even know they have PCOS until the go to the doctor to complain about a particular symptom.
Here are the common symptoms of polycystic ovarian syndrome:
- Ovarian Cysts
- Absent Period
- Heavy Period
- Irregular Period
- Raised level of insulin
- Weight gain
- Excessive Period pain
- Increased body and facial hair
- Fertility problems
There is no one way to diagnose PCOS. But generally, the doctor will request for your medical history alongside the symptoms you are having.
A pelvic examination is also conducted to check for swollen ovaries or clitoris.
A blood test is also carried out to check the level of your sex hormones. An increased level of testosterone is common in women with PCOS.
Other blood test such as fasting glucose test, lipid level test, thyroid function tests are also conducted.
How are PCOS treated. Although there is no cure for it. The condition can still be managed.
1. Contraceptive Pills
If you are not planning to get pregnant, a contraceptive pill is prescribed to help regulate your menstrual cycle.
2. Eating a healthy Diet
A PCOS diet is usually recommended for women who have PCOS to help mange the condition. Foods high in fibre and low glycemic foods are your best choice. Also eating monounsaturated fats instead of trans fat is also recommended.
3. Exercise Regularly
A moderate exercise regime should be followed regularly. Too much of a good thing can also be bad.
Exercise help to regulate insulin and there by help with the menstrual cycle.
A surgery such as laparoscopic ovarian drilling is carried out in some women with PCOS. The surgery is used to destroy some parts of the ovary which in turns triggers ovulation and also reduce male sex hormones (androgens such as testosterone).