PCOS and Getting Pregnant
About Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
As many as one in ten women suffer from some form of polycystic ovarian syndrome, or PCOS, and the disease is the most common cause of ovulation failure and infertility in pre-menopausal females. If you are a young woman with PCOS, you may be worried about your chances of having a baby in the future. You may even be a PCOS sufferer who has already tried to conceive without success. For women with PCOS, getting pregnant and carrying a baby to full term may be difficult, but there several things you can do to boost your chances of becoming a mother. These steps largely revolve around improving your lifestyle and general health and should always be taken under the close supervision of your doctor or gynecologist.
Many women with PCOS carry excess weight. They also suffer from varying degrees of hormone imbalance, including high levels of the male hormone testosterone and resistance to insulin, the hormone which controls sugar levels in the blood. These and other factors combine to stop ovulation and reduce fertility. PCOS researchers believe losing weight is the first step towards a healthy pregnancy, because the less weight you carry, the less insulin your body requires. This in turn will reduce your testosterone levels and improve your chances of normal menstruation. One study found that weight loss improved the menstrual cycles of no less than 82 percent of PCOS sufferers with a long history of infertility. Another found that 11 out of 12 PCOS sufferers conceived naturally after losing weight. We all know that the most effective way to shed those pounds is to eat healthily and exercise, so you need to get out there and get started. Remember to consult your doctor before beginning any new exercise and eating regime with the aim of getting pregnant. This is especially important if you are very overweight.
So we've established that you need to eat well, but what exactly does that involve? Medical professionals say that being thinner is not the only goal for women with PCOS; they also need to ensure they get the correct vitamins and nutrients. For this reason, fertility experts recommend a balanced diet.
- Eat lots of fruit and vegetables.
- Opt for complex carbohydrates such as brown rice and whole-wheat pasta.
- Eat plenty of beans, lentils, chickpeas and Soya products.
- Oily fish, nuts and seeds are also good.
- Reduce your consumption of saturated fats like those found in high fat dairy products, red meat, and fast foods.
- Drink plenty of fluids.
- Eat more fiber.
- Avoid chemicals in food, such as additives and preservatives (try to buy organic foods if possible).
There are also vitamins, minerals and herbs you can use to regain control of your weight and alleviate hormone imbalance. You must consult a medical professional before beginning any of these treatments, especially if you are already receiving any type of hormone therapy, such as the birth control pill, fertility treatment or Hormone Replacement Therapy.
- The minerals chromium and magnesium are thought to help reduce insulin resistance and may assist you in your efforts to lose weight.
- Zinc is good for appetite control.
- B Vitamins help maintain good thyroid function, which in turn influences your metabolism and weight.
- Garcinia cambogia helps control sugar cravings and converts carbohydrates into energy instead of fat.
- Agnus Castus (or chasteberry) helps regulate the pituitary gland, which releases certain hormones thought to decrease the risk of miscarriage in PCOS sufferers.
- Saw Palmetto is a herb thought to help reduce testosterone levels.
- Milk Thistle improves liver function and detoxes the body.
Medical treatments are available and any PCOS sufferer who is struggling to conceive should discuss them with her doctor. These treatments include:
- Clomiphone, a drug used to stimulate the ovaries.
- Metformin and other similar drugs which are already used to treat insulin resistance in diabetics. Their use in the treatment of PCOS is still being researched, but medics say the outlook is promising.
- Surgery is an option for those suffering from severe PCOS but it does bring with it a degree of fertility risk.
Don't forget that certain sex positions can boost your chances of conception.
Don't Give Up Hope
In short, there are many doctors and treatments ready to help you in your quest for a child. You may need patience and determination but you should not give up. We know that a woman's desire to carry her own baby is never to be underestimated, but don't forget that natural conception is not your only option. There are other possibilities for building a healthy and happy family, such as surrogacy or adoption.