PCOS: The Condition and Its Role in Pregnancy

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PCOS

Polycystic ovarian syndrome or PCOS is a hormonal condition affecting many women. Women diagnosed with PCOS can find it difficult to get pregnant or face certain complications during their pregnancy. However, this should not discourage women with PCOS from having a baby. Even though it is challenging, it is not impossible for them to get pregnant and deliver a healthy baby.

The Symptoms of PCOS

PCOS is a result of the ovaries producing higher than normal levels of androgens or male hormones. This can influence their menstrual cycle, fertility, and appearance. Here is a list of common symptoms associated with PCOS:

  • Irregular menstrual cycle
  • Acne
  • Cysts on the ovaries
  • Excessive facial hair on the face and body
  • Infertility
  • Insulin resistance
  • Thinning hair or balding
  • Weight gain

Diagnosing PCOS

Since the symptoms of PCOS are similar to other medical conditions, an immediate diagnosis does not always happen. Sometimes, women find that they have PCOS when they are unable to conceive. If you suspect you have PCOS, you should share your concerns with your doctor to get an answer.

Early diagnosis allows doctors to treat the symptoms of PCOS immediately. In doing so, it reduces the risk that you may face when you decide to conceive. When you visit your doctor, they will talk to you and examine you, take a blood test to determine the presence of the male hormones, and arrange ultrasound scans to check for cysts in your ovaries.

PCOS Impact on Fertility

Ovulation — ovary releasing an egg — occurs once each month unless you take birth control, which delays it. Women with PCOS ovulate less and have an irregular menstrual cycle, thus making them more prone to miscarriages.

For this reason, it may take women with PCOS longer to get pregnant. They are more likely to seek fertility treatments than women without PCOS. There is also a common misconception among women diagnosed with PCOS that they think that they can never get pregnant so they do not take birth control.

However, that is not true, and they can still get pregnant and need to take birth control to prevent an unwanted pregnancy. If a woman with PCOS wants to get pregnant, they can with their doctor’s support and guidance.

How Can Doctors Help Women with PCOS Become Pregnant?

If you are diagnosed with PCOS and you want to have a baby, you can discuss family planning with your doctor. Your doctor will create a plan to help you get pregnant. This plan may include eating healthy, losing weight, and taking medications if needed to increase your chances of becoming pregnant.

If your doctor decides to put you on medication, the three common medications prescribed for PCOS are Metformin, Clomiphene, and Letrozole. Metformin enables your body to utilize the insulin it creates and reduce the amount of insulin in your bloodstream. It stimulates ovulation in women with PCOS and can even help them lose weight.

Clomiphene induces ovulation by blocking your body’s response to estrogen, while Letrozole promotes ovulation as well and suppresses estrogen production. Low estrogen levels increase the pituitary gland’s production of follicle-stimulating hormone or FSH.

This encourages the development of follicles with eggs within your ovary. Some medications can be used together to increase the ovulation rate. Once you become pregnant, your doctor will take steps to ensure a smooth and successful pregnancy.

The Medical Journey of a Pregnant Woman with PCOS

Your doctor will ask you to check your blood glucose level throughout your pregnancy, telling you the number of times you should each day. You should test your blood sugar level before each meal, one to two hours after each meal, going to bed, and during the night.

Your doctor will let you know what the ideal blood glucose level reading should be, so aim for that. If you used an insulin pump before pregnancy, your doctor might advise you to continue using it. If you have never used an insulin pump, your doctor may not recommend it during pregnancy. But if other treatments to control your insulin fail, they may suggest you start using an insulin pump.

Your doctor may start you on a medical nutritional therapy. The nutritionist will develop a healthy eating plan to ensure you receive the recommended nutrients you need and gain healthy weight while controlling your blood glucose levels.

Your doctor may ask you to take certain vitamins. They may tell you to decrease your dose of folic acid after your first trimester. Your doctor will tell you about any other prenatal vitamins you need to take during your pregnancy.

The journey of women with PCOS may be a difficult one as they need to take more precautions than a pregnant woman without PCOS, but it is a fulfilling one regardless.

Author Bio

Family Planning Associates Medical Group offers affordable abortion, birth control, STD testing, annual exams, free pregnancy testing, and ob-gyn services.