Women's Health

Can I Get Pregnant with PCOS?

Written by Dr. Pari Bansari and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.

 
Image: Can I Get Pregnant with PCOS?

PCOS (polycystic ovaries syndrome) is quite challenging and frustrating. Most women do not seek help until they get menstrual irregularity and have a problem in getting pregnant. The good news is, with the right treatment and healthy lifestyle, women with PCOS have high chances of getting pregnant. Before we know the treatment options for this problem, let us first understand what PCOS is, what causes it, how it causes infertility, and how is it treated.

PCOS is a common hormonal imbalance disorder among women of childbearing age. Approximately 5 to 10 % women are affected by this disorder in their reproductive years.

The common symptoms of PCOS are an

  • Excessive growth of unwanted hair
  • Menstrual irregularity
  • Acne
  • Weight gain
  • Pelvic pain
  • Thinning of hair
  • Mood changes &
  • Infertility

If left untreated, PCOS can cause long-term health problems like diabetes, hypertension, and heart diseases.

Causes:

  • The exact cause of PCOS is unknown yet, but a genetic factor and hormonal imbalance are believed to play a role.

Diagnosis:

  • There is no specific diagnostic test for the condition. Your doctor might diagnose it through signs and symptoms, past medical history, pelvic ultrasound, and certain hormonal tests. On an ultrasound, your ovaries can be seen enlarged with multiple small cysts.

How Does It Affect Fertility:

  • Many women with PCOS have high insulin resistance in their body. Insulin is the hormone that converts food into energy and causes absorption of sugar by cells, thus controls the blood sugar level. Insulin resistance is when your body cells do not respond to the hormone. So, the insulin level becomes higher than normal. Another effect of insulin is to act on ovaries to make them produce androgen. Androgen is a male sex hormone that women's body also produce but in lower quantity. In PCOS, higher levels of insulin cause ovaries to produce androgen in higher quantity. These higher levels of insulin and androgen interfere with the growth and release of eggs (anovulation). This is how you get a problem in getting pregnant, this hormonal imbalance causes failure of ovulation, and without ovulation, you cannot get pregnant.

Treatment:

In most cases of PCOS, infertility is caused by anovulation (absence of ovulation), your doctor might give you medications which would induce ovulation. Before prescribing medications, he or she has to rule out other problems which might cause infertility. He might recommend losing weight, lifestyle changes, and exercise. Adopting a healthy lifestyle and losing weight helps restore ovulation in some women and can increase chances of getting pregnant without medication.

If you do not get pregnantwith these changes, then the doctor might suggest the following treatment:

  • Clomifene: Clomifene is commonly prescribed medication for the induction of ovulation.
  • Metformin: This drug is normally given to treat diabetes, but it can also be given for induction of ovulation alone or in combination with Clomifene.
  • Letrozole: It suppresses the production of estrogen, which in turn causes a high production of FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone). High levels of FSH stimulates the development of mature follicle and induces ovulation.
  • Injectable Gonadotropin: This medication is given by intramuscular and subcutaneous injection to induce ovulation.
  • Ovarian Drilling: This is an uncommon minimally invasive surgical method, which is done by laparoscopy. This treatment primarily is used if medications fail to work.
  • IVF (In Vitro Fertilization): If all the above treatment fails, then you can try this.

Not able to get pregnant with PCOS is quite challenging and stressful at times, but early diagnosis and right treatment can prevent you from too much stress and increase your chances of getting pregnant.

For more information consult a polycystic ovaries specialist online --> https://www.icliniq.com/ask-a-doctor-online/obstetrician-and-gynaecologist/polycystic-ovaries

Last reviewed at: 07.Sep.2018

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