Women with PCOS often worry about their fertility and reproductive health, such as whether they can get pregnant at all. PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) is a complex hormonal disorder that affects up to one in five women of childbearing age.
Many (but not all) women with PCOS are prone to anovulation and infertility, which is when the ovaries don’t always release an egg during the menstrual cycle.
As a result, they may have more difficulty conceiving than other women. Fertility treatment or a longer time to conceive may be necessary for most women with PCOS, but the right advice and support can help improve fertility and increase the chances of pregnancy.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, or PCOS, is when your body has hormonal imbalance and metabolic problems, leading to multiple cysts on the ovaries.
The imbalance of reproductive hormones causes problems in the ovaries and causes irregular periods, weight gain, acne and facial hair.
PCOS can affect women of all races and ethnicities. However, your PCOS risk increases if your mother, sister, or aunt has PCOS. PCOS can develop at any age after puberty, but most women discover they have the condition in their 20s or 30s or when they have trouble getting pregnant.
Some PCOS symptoms, such as acne, excess body and facial hair, and hair loss, are due to elevated androgen levels. Androgens are present in all women, but those with PCOS have slightly higher amounts.
Recently, studies have found that PCOS often causes poor glucose tolerance, prediabetes, and type 2 diabetes. In such a situation, download HealthifyMe, which helps you understand your body’s glucose patterns with continuous glucose monitoring.
CGMS Provides real-time and personalized feedback on whether your diet and lifestyle choices are positively or negatively impacting processes that cause PCOS symptoms. It works through a small sensor that is inserted under your skin. The CGM sends the information wirelessly to the app on your phone or laptop, so you can monitor your blood sugar throughout the day.
PCOS is challenging enough as it is, so taking care of your body is essential to prevent or manage further health problems like diabetes. But even if you don’t have prediabetes or diabetes, following HealthifyPro plans can be a powerful way to discover which foods and exercises lower your chances of developing a more serious health condition.
The direct and personalized guidance of a functional nutritionist or health coach helps you understand what works specifically for your body to optimize your hormone balance, weight, fertility and overall health.
For example, green tea is good for PCOS, but your body may not respond favorably to it. Or maybe you’re drinking green tea the wrong way and at the wrong time.
Here, HealthifyMe can help you understand whether drinking green tea before or after a workout makes your body tolerate it better. After all, the body’s response to food is very individual.
Will PCOS Affect Fertility?
Suppose you are still not pregnant after 6-12 months of trying (6 months if you are over 35) and are experiencing irregular and unpredictable periods. It means that PCOS is affecting your fertility.
Here’s how PCOS and its complications affect your fertility:
Women with PCOS often experience an imbalance in their crucial fertility hormones, such as LH (luteinizing hormone) and FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone).
For example, an underproduction of FSH can lead to irregular menstrual cycles and difficulty getting pregnant due to irregular or absent ovulation. That’s because FSH is responsible for maintaining menstrual cycle regularity and producing healthy eggs, while also lowering estrogen levels. All of these hormonal imbalances can cause poor fertility.
PCOS is one of the biggest causes of hormonal imbalance in women. It causes an imbalance in the main fertility hormones, such as LH or luteinizing hormone, FSH or follicle stimulating hormone and estrogen.
FSH is responsible for maintaining the regularity of the menstrual cycle and producing healthy eggs. However, PCOS results in decreased levels of FSH. At the same time, you may experience an underproduction of estrogen. These hormonal imbalances cause irregular menstrual cycles and you do not ovulate or ovulate only occasionally. As a result, it causes problems in conceiving and poor fertility.
Anti-Müller hormone supports the early stages of follicle development, the reservoir of eggs before fertilization. Thus, a balance of AMH is necessary to maintain your ovarian reserve. Unfortunately, one studies shows that women with PCOS have higher anti-Müller hormone levels, making conception difficult unless treated.
Anovulatory infertility in PCOS is when the entire process of follicle development is abnormal. It causes an absence of regular menstruation.
Some bleeding may occur with anovulatory cycles, which you may mistake for regular periods. Depending on the severity, anovulation can progress to infertility. A studies shows that being overweight and PCOS increase the risk of anovulatory infertility.
Many women don’t find out they have anovulatory infertility when they use hormonal birth control because it allows for monthly bleeding and masks irregular or missed periods.
A studies shows that women with PCOS are at high risk for insulin resistance and defects in insulin secretion. It occurs in 70-95% of obese women with PCOS and can hinder or inhibit ovulation.
Read more: The Insulin Resistance Diet: A Healthy Eating Habit
It can lead to infertility if you ovulate irregularly or don’t ovulate at all. Insulin resistance due to PCOS can also cause secondary infertility. It is when you have become pregnant at least once before, but are now unable to conceive.
Weight gain, a common side effect of PCOS, is perhaps the biggest problem behind infertility. It is also more difficult to lose weight compared to women who do not have PCOS.
Research reveals that overweight and obesity have a detrimental effect on reproductive health, leading to infertility. In addition to the subfertility common in PCOS, obese women experience disruptions in the system that controls female reproduction. This dysfunction often causes obese PCOS women to experience menstrual irregularities.
The HealthifyMe note
In addition to obesity and insulin resistance, PCOS also causes oligo- or anovulation, hyperandrogenism, and polycystic ovaries. These endocrine diseases are the known risk factors for causing infertility, pregnancy loss and late pregnancy complications, indicating that PCOS negatively impacts fertility. However, a woman with PCOS can get pregnant with fertility treatment and lifestyle modification, including a healthy diet and exercise.
Boost Fertility With PCOS: Just Like A Pro
Most women with PCOS can get pregnant with fertility treatment, but cases vary so much and different treatments show different success rates. Working through PCOS can be a long, complicated, and anxious process. And HealthifyMe would invest time to get your diet right, create a PCOS-specific fitness program, and de-stress your life.
Have you had trouble getting pregnant because of your weight? Or do you want to lose weight with PCOS? HealthifyMe’s customized weight loss plans could be for you.
While having PCOS makes conception more challenging, there are ways to boost fertility.
Many women with PCOS can improve their fertile window with the help of ovulation medications. These medications can promote healthy ovulation. However, talk to a doctor or fertility specialist first to find the best type and dose of medication.
When you’re dealing with infertility, reducing your stress makes a significant difference. You can benefit from therapy, yoga, meditation, exercise, or connecting with loved ones. However, prolonged stress with PCOS can take some time to heal.
Find your healthy weight
Losing about 10% of body weight can improve your hormonal balance and ovulation. In addition, maintaining a weight that is compatible with your height and age can improve your menstrual cycle, reduce insulin resistance and increase overall fertility.
In addition, women with PCOS who exercise regularly have a 5% lower risk of infertility than those who don’t. However, excessive exercise and fad diets to lose weight are unhealthy. Instead, aim for moderate-intensity exercise 3-5 days a week for best and safe results.
A balanced PCOS diet ensures that insulin functions correctly, reduces androgen production and promotes fertility. Choose foods rich in nutrients and high in vitamins and minerals to reduce the severity of PCOS symptoms.
High-quality, fiber-rich carbohydrates help stabilize your blood sugar levels, which is beneficial for those who are insulin resistant. However, limiting or avoiding whole food groups won’t produce long-term results. Therefore, work with a nutritionist to determine a personalized PCOS diet to optimize your health.
If lifestyle changes and medications are unsuccessful, surgical procedures are available for women with PCOS to boost fertility. For example, ovarian drilling is a surgical treatment to trigger ovulation. Although ovarian drilling is not always necessary, more than 50% of women can become pregnant within the first year after surgery.
For women trying to conceive, PCOS can make it difficult due to hormonal imbalances and irregular periods. However, this does not mean that you cannot get pregnant.
You can reduce fertility problems through a balanced diet, regular exercise, weight loss and medications. Improving your fertility when you suffer from PCOS can take time, effort, and a recalibration of your lifestyle habits, but it can happen.
Since insulin resistance and high blood sugar are common with PCOS, switching to HealthifyPro is an easy way to continuously monitor your blood sugar patterns.
It’s also important to routinely test your metabolic markers if you have PCOS. A HealthifyPRO 2.0 subscription has a comprehensive Metabolic Panel that monitors over 80 key metabolic parameters. With just a single prick sampling, you can access accurate data about your metabolic health at home. A metabolically healthy person is less likely to suffer from chronic diseases and other health problems, including fertility problems.