More than 70% of infertile women reaching out to fertility clinics often suffer from PCOS or PCOD. Polycystic Ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a leading infertility cause in women of childbearing age. While the exact cause and cure of PCOS are unspecified, several treatment plans might help encourage fertility and pregnancy in women with PCOS.
If you have PCOS (clinically diagnosed) or have symptoms of PCOS, you have to seek an OB/GYN and fertility specialist.
Some common symptoms of PCOS:
- Irregular or abnormal periods,
- Excessive unwanted hair growth, hair loss,
- Overweight or underweight,
- Difficulty in conceiving, etc.
Why and How does PCOS Affect Fertility in Women?
As we know, follicles in ovaries grow into oocytes (mature eggs). During ovulation, the mature eggs will release from the follicles and travel through the fallopian tube towards the uterus. The egg(s) can either get fertilized as it meets a sperm(s) during its journey or reaches the uterus unfertilized and reabsorbed into the uterine lining. In the former case, a fertilized egg will instigate pregnancy. In the latter case, the uterine lining will shed in the form of period blood after the complete ovulation.
However, PCOS – a hormonal disorder, causes enlarged cystic follicles in ovaries. These poor follicles are impotent to grow healthy eggs. As a result, no or few (unhealthy) egg(s) are released during ovulation. This lack of healthy eggs is the root of infertility in women with PCOS. No egg means no fertilization and, therefore, no pregnancy.
However, it’s not impossible to get pregnant with PCOS. Sure, The chances of natural pregnancy are low, but with little fertility help, one can conceive naturally and also artificially.
So, Don’t let your PCOS thwart you from the joy of parenthood. Here is how you can improve your fertility with PCOS.
Although PCOS can be rarely cured or reversed, low fertility caused by this syndrome can be improved.
First, we have to aid in the betterment of potential causes of PCOS, such as unhealthy weight, poor diet, stress, high insulin resistance, thyroid, hormonal imbalance, etc.
On your very first fertility visit, your OB/GYN will suggest you some tests and screening to inspect the condition and cause of your PCOS:
- BMI measure.
- Blood Tests: FSH & LH test, TSH, Prolactin test, blood sugar level tests, CA 125, etc.
- Pelvic or transvaginal ultrasound,
- Urine tests: HIV, AIDS, etc.
- Chest X-ray.
As per your medical test reports, the doctor may suggest the following to improve fertility:
If you are overweight or underweight, losing or gaining some weight may improve hormonal imbalance and fertility. A lot of times, overweight, infertile women have conceived successfully after losing only a little to 5% of body weight.
While being overweight and PCOS are often related due to low insulin resistance, Lean PCOS is a less understood subject.
Diet and Exercise
A healthy diet restores high insulin resistance and balances out blood sugar levels. Your diet should be balanced with minerals, vitamins, complex carbs, dietary fiber, and healthy fatty acids. Not only that but the diet must also be maintained throughout the pregnancy.
Some musts in a healthy diet are:
- Whole grains,
- Protein-rich food,
- Green leafy vegetables,
- Fresh Fruits and vegetables,
- Fish and chicken or some alternatives,
- Lentils, legumes, and sprouts.
Certain supplementation can be recommended to fulfill the requirements of pregnancy:
- Vitamin C, D, and E
- Vitamin B12, B6
- Folic acid
- Coenzyme Q10.
- Iron, Zinc, etc.
Besides diet, regular exercise can improve your blood sugar level and BMI, hence regulating ovulation and enhancing fertility.
Note that Stress management is also very crucial for hormonal and PCOS regulation.
Lifestyle modification might help you, but it takes quite some time to get an effective result. Therefore, doctors prescribe medication to encourage ovulation for pregnancy. These medications include both oral medicines and injections. Some common medications are:
- Metformin for insulin resistance,
- Clomiphene citrate or Clomid; estrogen levels,
- Medication of thyroid,
- Letrozole to stimulate ovulation,
- Gonadotropins injection,
- Birth control contraceptives (before the beginning of fertility processes,
- Superovulation medicine containing FSH and LH for fertility treatment.
Medication alone might not lead to fertility because of various factors such as age and endometriosis. If medication fails to bring you fertility, your doctor will suggest more invasive and artificial treatments like ARTs.
Assisted Reproductive Techniques are the most reassuring fertility treatment for women with PCOS. These treatments include; IUI, IVF, and ICSI. In ARTs, eggs are fertilized by artificial insemination.
Before performing ARTs, superovulation drugs are recommended for women with PCOS to increase the number of eggs per ovulation. The ovulation cycle is examined and monitored for every step.
Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)
In this process, the sperm sample is artificially exerted inside the uterus during ovulation with the help of a tube. During ovulation, there is a higher chance that sperm will fertilize at least one egg.
In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
If IUI doesn’t work out for you, Don’t Worry! IVF is the best fertility treatment for women having PCOS. The success rate is rather high for this treatment – about 70%. In IVF, The eggs are fertilized outside the uterus by placing them in a culture with sperm(s). The fertilized egg (or embryo) is then put back inside the uterus for implantation.
IVF can be combined with ICSI (Intracytoplasmic sperm injection), where a sperm is injected into the egg.
In some cases, surgeries, namely Hysteroscopy and Laparoscopy, are performed to help with endometrial and uterine abnormalities, which might be causing infertility.
Endometrial abnormalities in women with PCOS:
- Fibroid tumors
- Endometrial polyps
- Uterine Infections
These treatments not only help you to achieve pregnancy but also improve PCOS.
POCS, even if it can’t be cured, shouldn’t be left untreated. If so, it can foster other clinical conditions like;
- Type 2 diabetes
- Sleeping disorders
- High cholesterol
- Cancer, etc.
Follow your doctor’s guidance for a risk-free successful pregnancy regardless of PCOS. PCOS infertility treatment is one of our areas of expertise, as many have achieved motherhood with our help and guidance. Furthermore, our specialists help you to manage your PCOS.
Lastly, If you’ve got a high risk for pregnancy or some other medical conditions due to which you cannot bear a child – Surrogacy is a supportable option. Check out our Surrogacy program for more information.
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