PCOS And Pregnancy
If you have PCOS and you're pregnant - congratulations! It's likely that you've had to make lifestyle changes and even undergo medical or fertility treatment to conceive, and you should be proud of your efforts and success. Now that the stress of achieving conception is behind you, you may already be concerned about the next stage, the pregnancy itself. Even PCOS sufferers who get pregnant relatively easily, or by accident, should know that a PCOS pregnancy does not always progress without complications. There are several factors which should be monitored by your doctor and/or gynecologist.
Is A Successful Pregnancy Possible?
The answer is yes. Your chances of carrying a baby to full term depend on the severity of your PCOS, your own state of health and the treatment you receive during pregnancy, but it is very possible for a woman with PCOS to have a successful pregnancy and many have done so.
So What Are The Risks?
Medical experts say women with PCOS are at an increased risk of developing gestational diabetes, high blood pressure (hypertension), preeclampsia and blood clotting disorders during pregnancy. Pregnant PCOS sufferers are also more likely to experience miscarriage, pre-term birth or have over-size babies. Studies have placed the miscarriage rate among pregnant women with PCOS at between 45 and 50 %, compared to 15 to 25 % among the normal female population. While this figure may seem scary and intimidating, it's important to remember that steps can be taken to prevent and treat these disorders.
What Can I Do?
The first thing you must do, if you haven't done it already, is inform your doctor or whoever normally treats your PCOS that you're pregnant. If you have been getting treatment for PCOS or to help you conceive, you need to be aware that some medications for PCOS are not suitable for use during pregnancy. You must discuss this with your doctor. Certain fertility drugs used by women with PCOS also increase the chance of multiple pregnancies. One clear advantage, if you've been having treatment, is that you are probably already doing a lot of the things that will help you to complete a healthy pregnancy. These include, weight loss (through good diet and exercise), reducing your stress levels and medical care to protect you and your baby.
If you are overweight (and a lot of women with PCOS are), shedding some pounds will help reduce the risk of high blood pressure, miscarriage, and the chances of having a very large baby. It will also help to rectify the hormonal imbalances that hinder normal embryo implantation and development in PCOS women. In particular, weight loss reduces the amount of insulin (the hormone which regulates blood sugar) that your body needs to function. High levels of insulin in PCOS sufferers are linked to gestational diabetes. This disorder can cause the baby to grow too big, which in turn can bring on pre-term birth and necessitate a C-section. Having too much insulin can also cause blood clots in the placenta. This deprives the baby of vital nutrients and can lead to miscarriage or stillbirth. Remember that you must consult a medical professional familiar with your condition before beginning any new exercise or eating regime during your pregnancy. This is especially important if you are very overweight.
Most treatment for PCOS is aimed at stabilizing your hormones to increase your chances of achieving and maintaining pregnancy. Your doctor should also monitor your blood pressure at regular intervals and look for early-warning signs of diabetes and (later in the pregnancy) pre-eclampisa. Certain drugs may also be used to prevent blood clotting.
Being anxious about a PCOS pregnancy is very understandable, but by staying calm you could be increasing the chances of a successful outcome for you and your baby. Remember that high stress levels are associated with hypertension. Do what you can to be well-informed, communicate with your doctor frequently and follow his or her instructions. Apart from that, the most important thing you can do is try not to worry. Some gentle and relaxing activity to get you out and about, like swimming or yoga, could be what you need to take your mind off things. Ask your doctor.