Though an irregular period is a common sign of PCOS, a lot of women with PCOS have regular periods. Only when trying to conceive most women realize that they have PCOS, and it is the reason why they are facing a challenge getting pregnant. PCOS is the most common cause of infertility in women. With one in every ten women affected by PCOS, it is quite prevalent these days. And even though PCOS isn’t curable yet, with lifestyle modifications and medical treatments, one can get pregnant even with PCOS.
PCOS is primarily genetic, so if your mother has PCOS, you too will likely have it. The common concerns in women with PCOS are 1) high levels of testosterone, i.e., male hormones which disrupt ovulation and may cause excessive facial hair in women with PCOS 2) insulin resistance which means higher levels of the hormone, insulin in the body which disturbs ovulation and causes weight gain. Both these conditions meddle with the monthly cycle. During the monthly menstrual cycle, ovulation, i.e., the release of a mature egg from the ovary happens around the 14th day, midway of the cycle. When the egg meets the sperm, it may result in pregnancy. Due to the hormonal imbalance in girls with PCOS, no egg is released, and ovulation doesn’t take place, even though you get your periods regularly. This condition is called anovulation. Since the egg doesn’t mature and release, one doesn’t get pregnant.
Though PCOS cannot be cured, the symptoms can be treated, and one can get pregnant. How much time it takes varies from person to person depending upon the severity of the problem. Possible treatments include:
Reducing weight is the first recommendation to women with PCOS trying to conceive because being overweight works against fertility. Follow a regular workout routine with a healthy diet to reduce weight. Weight loss helps to bring the hormones back to normal levels. Even a 5-10% weight loss increases the chances of ovulation and pregnancy.
Metformin helps to reduce insulin and glucose levels, improve the ovulation rate, and regulate the menstrual cycle.
Clomiphene Citrate is also used to treat infertility in women with PCOS. It promotes ovulation and thereby increases the chances of pregnancy.
If Clomiphene citrate and metformin do not help, Gonadotrophins is the next step for treatment. Gonadotrophins are injectable hormones (a combination of FSH – Follicle Stimulating Hormone and LH – Luteinizing Hormone) given to induce ovulation. These hormones stimulate the growth and release of eggs, often resulting in multiple pregnancies.
IVF – In Vitro Fertilization
If other treatments do not work, the next step is IVF. In this first fertility drugs are given to stimulate the growth of several eggs in the ovaries. The matured eggs are then retrieved from the body and fertilized outside. The fertilized eggs are transferred back to the uterus. Solely making lifestyle changes by opting for a more healthy and nutritious diet and regular exercise routine can significantly help bring hormonal balance in the body to manage PCOS and get you pregnant. There are natural ways too that you can try to regulate the menstrual cycle. But even after attempting for six months to a year if you don’t get pregnant, consult a gynaecologist. Discuss your fertility options as you start with the treatment.