PCOS is a health issue many women face. Even though it might make conceiving a challenge. However, it does not mean it’s impossible. Many women with PCOS have been able to conceive and bear children. Let’s explore this topic in more detail in this article.
What Is PCOS?
PCOS stands for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. PCOS is mainly a hormone problem that affects the ovaries. It often changes how ovaries work, and due to this reason, many women find it a challenge to become pregnant and conceive. It is a prevalent problem amongst women, and despite this, they lead healthy lives. There are specific treatments, coupled with other approaches, available to help.
How Does PCOS Affect Fertility?
Here is the breakdown of how PCOS affects fertility.
- Androgens: These are often called “Male Hormones,” and women with PCOS tend to have them at higher levels.
- Fluid-filled Sacs: These can form in the ovaries.
- Ovary changes: The outer layer of the ovaries can become thickened.
- Insulin Levels: High insulin levels in the bloodstream can also be a concern.
All these factors can play havoc with ovulation. Sometimes, menstruation may get irregular or even stop. It is a significant reason why 70-80% of women with PCOS face fertility issues.
Recognizing PCOS Symptoms
PCOS often shows its first signs in the late teens or early twenties. Some tell-tale symptoms include:
- Hair changes: More facial hair but less on the scalp.
- Skin Issues: You might notice more oiliness, severe acne, skin tags, and dark patches.
- Weight: Gaining weight or finding it hard to lose those extra pounds.
- Menstrual Cycle: Irregular menstruation or none at all.
Battling PCOS-Induced Infertility
Though PCOS can not be cured per se, there are ways to manage its symptoms and boost fertility:
- Lifestyle Tweaks
Treatment For PCOS-Induced Fertility
PCOS affects the chances of getting pregnant and conceiving children because sometimes the affected ovaries do not release an egg. But before any treatment is started, you must ensure your doctor checks for other reasons.
Lifestyle changes: Losing a little weight and maintaining a balanced diet can make a big difference. Shedding weight increases your chances of conceiving. Your doctor will likely ask you to bring about these changes before starting any medicine.
- Clomiphene: This is the most common medicine doctors prescribe for PCOS-related fertility problems. It helps your ovaries release eggs. However, this medicine increases your chances of having twins.
- Metformin: This medicine is usually for diabetes, but it can also help with ovulation in women with PCOS. However, it is not officially approved for treating fertility problems due to PCOS.
- Letrozole: This medicine helps your body produce a hormone needed for ovulation. Some studies suggest it works better than Clomiphene. However, it is essential to know that it might cause congenital disabilities if taken during pregnancy.
- Gonadotropins: These are hormones given as shots. They help you ovulate but are expensive and might increase your chances of having twins or triplets. Your doctor will need to check up often if you take these.
This surgery is where the doctor makes a small cut and uses a thin tool to make tiny holes in the ovaries. It might help you ovulate. It might be an option if other treatments do not work. However, it is not always recommended because it scars the ovaries.
In Vitro Fertilization
If nothing else works, your doctor might suggest IVF. In Vitro Fertilization is a procedure where an egg and sperm are fertilized in a lab outside the body. After the fertilization takes place, the egg is placed back in the uterus. This procedure has proved to be best for some women with PCOS. However, good things come at a cost, and IVF can be costly.
The PCOS diagnosis is pretty straightforward. Here is what doctors look for:
- First, they will question you about your menstruation to see whether your periods are irregular or infrequent. This could signal that your ovaries are not releasing eggs regularly.
- Next, they might run some blood tests to check for higher levels of male hormones, such as testosterone. Even if your test results are within normal ranges, you might exhibit symptoms associated with more elevated levels of male hormones.
- An ultrasound might be used to examine your ovaries. Specific appearances are typical in PCOS.
To confirm a PCOS diagnosis, you only need to meet two of these criteria. This means an ultrasound is not always necessary. However, your doctor will also rule out other potential causes for your symptoms before diagnosing.
Beyond the conventional treatments, some alternative methods might help:
- Dietary changes and Movement: A diet low in carbohydrates and calories can be beneficial. Pair it with regular physical activity.
- Acupuncture: While some vouch for its benefits, especially in increasing blood flow to the ovaries, it is still under research.
- Natural Remedies: Essential oils and certain herbs and supplements might offer relief. But remember, always chat with your doctor before trying something new.
PCOS And Other Conditions
Sometimes, PCOS is accompanied by other conditions like endometriosis. It is a condition in which a tissue akin to the uterine lining grows outside the uterus. This condition is another hurdle for fertility, and it affects nearly 40% of women and makes conceiving a challenge.
Mental Health Considerations
Dealing with PCOS and fertility issues can be emotionally draining and taxing. Feelings of depression and anxiety are not uncommon. It is crucial to lean on the support one gets. Family and friends can be of great support. Moreover, you can also opt for professional help, be it professional counseling, support groups, or PCOS-focused organizations.
When to See a Doctor
If PCOS symptoms seem familiar or you are facing fertility issues, do not hesitate. Reaching out to a medical professional early can change the game.
While PCOS can throw a wrench in your fertility plans, it is not a full stop. With the proper care, guidance, and interventions, many women with PCOS have realized their dreams of motherhood and conceived children. With medicines and many other approaches, you can manage PCOS.