Getting pregnant with PCOS – Top 5 things you need to know
Being PCOS Awareness Month, you may have heard of this condition in the news or on social media. But what is it exactly? And does it automatically mean those with PCOS will struggle to fall pregnant?
As a fertility specialist with IVFAustralia, many of my patients come to me with these questions and concerns. So today, I’ll be speaking to you about the top 5 things you need to know about this surprisingly common condition.
Firstly, what is PCOS?
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) affects up to 1 in 8 women of reproductive age in Australia
- It is caused by a complex interplay of hormonal imbalance between the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, ovaries and the various other organs in the body.
- The resulting signs and symptoms might include:
- Fertility issues
- Menstrual disturbance
- Mood changes
- Excessive hair growth
So, what are the top 5 things you need to know about PCOS?
At a glance:
- PCOS may pose certain challenges to getting pregnant
- Start with the simple things
- Treatment is readily available and highly effective
- Early pregnancy screening is important
- Enjoy being pregnant!
1. Difficulty in conceiving
One of the main issues associated with PCOS is anovulation, which is essentially failure of the follicles in the ovaries to release eggs. This may manifest as menstrual irregularities or sometimes, complete absence of periods (amenorrhoea). As you can imagine, this would not only make it difficult to track the timing of your ovulation and plan intercourse, but at times would make it impossible for fertilisation to occur.
2. Start with the simple things
One of the main impacts of the hormonal imbalance with PCOS is obesity. It has been shown that a modest weight loss of 5-10% of body weight could help regulate the reproductive hormones and improve ovulation. Lifestyle management should be considered as a first-line approach, and simple things such as healthy eating and regular exercise might be all it takes to induce ovulation and help you conceive.
3. Treatment options are available
Sometimes you might need help with medications to induce ovulation. This can be achieved via several methods, starting from simple tablets such as Clomid or Letrozole, or hormonal injections to regulate ovarian follicular development, to more complex fertility treatment such as IVF. The important thing to note, is there are highly effective treatments to overcome PCOS-related ovulation problems… so do not despair! We are always happy to have a chat with you to discuss your options.
4. Screening in early pregnancy
Congratulations, first of all! It might not have been an easy journey to get to where you are. Because PCOS can be associated with conditions such as insulin resistance, which predisposes you to develop gestational diabetes, it is important to do an early glucose tolerance test to ensure that your blood sugar level remains well controlled. Sometimes, the treatment to help you get pregnant can increase the risk of multiple pregnancy, therefore it is also important to do an early ultrasound scan.
5. Enjoy being pregnant!
Despite all the above ‘precautions’, the vast majority of patients with PCOS would go on to conceive, and to deliver a healthy baby. And there is absolutely no reason why you would not have the same outcome. Pregnancy is a special time in one’s life and should be enjoyed as much as possible.
All the best in your journey and I wish you all good health and success!- Dr Dave Listijono
If you know or suspect you have PCOS and have been trying to conceive for more than 12 months (6 months if you are over 35) please call 1800 111 483 or book an appointment with a fertility specialist.