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A staggering 8%-13% of women have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), one of the leading causes of infertility. If you are among those with PCOS and are worried you won't be able to get pregnant, we have (good) news. But first, let’s understand what PCOS is.
In PCOS, multiple sacs of fluid form along the outer edges of your ovary. These sacs (cysts) contain immature eggs (follicles), preventing a regular egg release for ovulation. This is why one of the symptoms of PCOS is irregular or skipped periods with unusual weight gain, excessive hair growth on the body (due to high levels of androgen, a male hormone), male-pattern baldness, mood swings, and more.
Since you don’t ovulate frequently, you can’t produce viable eggs for pregnancy. But that doesn’t make you infertile. It just means that when you show signs you’re ready to have a baby, you need more assistance and support to get pregnant.
Lifestyle changes are necessary if you have PCOS and want to become pregnant. Since it’s a metabolic disorder (that affects the body’s ability to turn food into energy), maintaining a healthy body weight often takes center stage.
“One of the most important problems that occur in PCOS is that the cycles are anovular, which means there is no ovulation taking place during the cycles,” says Dr. Emanuel Gracias, OB-GYN.
“There are many ways to stimulate ovulation: medication, injections, etc.” Dr Gracias also stresses the importance of maintaining a healthy body weight, which he says can make a “significant difference.” There are lots of other factors that can help, too.
Consume low-glycemic foods like vegetables and whole grains and focus on having a balanced diet with high-fibre foods and proteins.
You don’t need a hardcore routine. A simple walk helps, and the key is consistency. Exercise also controls your blood sugar, weight, insulin levels, and stress.
Women with PCOS tend to have low blood sugar levels, which often means more cravings for sugary foods. Learn to regulate your blood sugar to avoid obesity and difficulties in getting pregnant.
Keep an eye on your menstrual cycle to predict your fertile window. Tracking will help you understand your ovulation window and know the right time to have sex to conceive.
Birth control pills and fertility drugs are known to assist with regulating your ovulation. However, consult a professional before taking any medication.
If you’re not getting pregnant despite medication and lifestyle changes, it’s time to visit a fertility specialist. Pregnancy is possible with in-vitro fertilization (IVF) and procedures like ovarian drilling (a minimally invasive surgical technique to regulate ovulation).
Dr. Gracias states, “There is no specific time limit when a person with PCOS will get pregnant. It’s not just about having polycystic ovaries but also other factors such as age, lifestyle, etc.”
Generally, it takes up to a year, possibly longer, to get pregnant. If you're not seeing success after a year of trying, it could be time to visit a fertility specialist for a consultation and a check-up.
Increasing your chances of pregnancy can be challenging as it doesn’t just involve adopting healthy habits but letting go of unhealthy ones.
Try your best to avoid foods that can deteriorate your gut and hormones. Carbs, sugar, and saturated fats should be reduced or eliminated.
Smoking worsens metabolism and affects your PMS symptoms and fertility. Alcohol increases estrogen, which leads to low mood, weight gain, and further imbalance.
Avoiding stress entirely is not an option, so learn the art of managing it. Develop rituals such as meditation, journaling, etc., that lower your stress levels.
The clear signs of PCOS are irregular periods, unexplained weight gain, excessive facial hair, male-pattern balding, etc. However, you can confirm the diagnosis from a professional with specific tests.
Lifestyle improvements such as a healthy diet, regular exercise, and subsequent weight loss help with getting ovulation back on track.
Yes, you can. Once you start ovulating regularly after making lifestyle changes, you can increase your chance of getting pregnant.
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