What is PCOS?
PCOS is a hormonal disorder that affects your ovaries. Your ovaries make and release an egg each month, which causes your menstrual cycle. An imbalance in hormone levels disturbs the development of the egg in your ovaries. If you have PCOS, your ovary may not release the egg, or ovulate.
PCOS results in the development of fluid-filled sacs, called cysts, in the ovary. It causes irregular menstrual periods and may lead to infertility as the ovary can’t release eggs easily. This is why getting pregnant with PCOS can be difficult. But early diagnosis and treatment can reverse PCOS.
About 5% to 13% of women of reproductive age are diagnosed with PCOS.
Causes of PCOS
The exact cause of PCOS is unknown. Research suggests that increased levels of male hormones, called androgens, and insulin can cause PCOS.
PCOS can also occur due to the following underlying conditions:
Symptoms of PCOS
Some other symptoms of PCOS include:
- Missed or irregular menstrual periods
- Cysts in ovaries
- Insulin resistance, causing high levels of blood sugar and insulin
- Hirsutism, or hair on the face or body
- Oily skin or acne on the face and body
- Hair loss and thinning of hair
- Weight gain and difficulty losing weight
- Darkening of skin in your neck creases, near your groin, or under your breasts
- Skin tags or small bits of skin growth on your armpits, neck, or eyelids
Diagnosis of PCOS
If you think you have symptoms of PCOS, visit your doctor immediately. Diagnosing PCOS early can help you treat the underlying condition before the symptoms worsen. This can decrease the risk of complications if you’re planning a pregnancy.
Your doctor will take a blood test to check your hormone levels and scan your ovaries for cysts using ultrasound.
Getting pregnant with PCOS
If you’re diagnosed with PCOS, it doesn’t mean you can't get pregnant. Most women with PCOS become pregnant. But they may take longer than women without PCOS.
The following lifestyle changes can help you naturally increase your chances of getting pregnant with PCOS:
PCOS-related infertility and its treatment
Sometimes, high levels of male hormones can interfere with egg production in your ovaries, causing PCOS-related infertility. If your egg isn’t released by the ovary, you won’t be able to get pregnant.
Infertility due to PCOS is treatable. You can consult with your doctor to increase your chances of pregnancy. They may order fertility tests and prescribe the following fertility medications to help you ovulate:
- Contraceptive (birth control) medication to regulate menstrual periods
- Clomiphene citrate to induce ovulation
- Aromatase inhibitors like letrozole to encourage ovulation
- Metformin to relieve PCOS symptoms associated with diabetes
If medications don't help, your doctor may suggest surgery to remove the male hormone-producing tissue in your ovaries. This procedure is called laparoscopic ovarian drilling.
Injecting reproductive hormones into your uterus can also help improve fertility. Your doctor may also recommend in vitro fertilization to increase your chances of pregnancy.
Complications during pregnancy
If you have severe PCOS symptoms, you may experience the following complications during pregnancy:
- Premature birth
- Preeclampsia or high blood pressure
- Gestational diabetes
- Cesarean section
If you have PCOS and are pregnant, consult your doctor about the risk of these complications. Continuously monitoring your symptoms and being extra careful during your pregnancy can help you avoid any risks.
Fertility and Sterility: "Recommendations from the international evidence-based guideline for the assessment and management of polycystic ovary syndrome."
NHS: "Polycystic ovary syndrome."
OASH: "Polycystic ovary syndrome."
pregnancy, birth, and baby: "PCOS and pregnancy."
yourfertility: "I have PCOS and I want to have a baby, what do I need to know?"
Top Get Pregnant With PCOS Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Related Articles
Can I Get Pregnant With PCOS Naturally?PCOS is a common hormonal disorder that affects reproductive-aged women. Having PCOS does not mean natural conception is impossible. PCOS is common and treatable for women with fertility issues.
Causes of Infertility in a WomanInfertility is a common problem in the United States, with about 10% of women aged 15-44 years facing difficulty in conceiving or bearing a child.
What Are the Chances of Getting Pregnant at 45 or Older?Your chances of getting pregnant reduce as you progress in age. Find out the probability of conceiving after the age of 45.
Am I Pregnant QuizWhat are early pregnancy symptoms? In some women, symptoms range from a missed period to feeling lightheaded. Others may experience typical "morning sickness" and food cravings. Could you be pregnant? Take the quiz!
How Easy Is It To Get Pregnant After Giving Birth While Breastfeeding?Some people use breastfeeding to delay ovulation after giving birth because they believe it leads to a lower chance of pregnancy. Breastfeeding often, but not always, delays ovulation and lowers fertility.
Infertility TreatmentLearn about fertility options such as IVF (in vitro fertilization), acupuncture, and natural lifestyle choices. Read about infertility in men and women as well as treatment costs and pregnancy success rates.
Ovulation & FertilityBoost fertility and increase your chances to conceive. Learn about ovulation calendars, diet, aging and other factors that can affect pregnancy.
What Are Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) Symptoms?Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), also known by the name Stein-Leventhal syndrome, is a hormonal problem that causes women to have a variety of symptoms including irregular or no menstrual periods, acne, obesity, and excess hair growth. Treatment of PCOS depends partially on the woman's stage of life and the symptoms of PCOS.
Pregnancy Myths and Facts QuizBeing pregnant is a delicate time for both mother and baby. Take this pregnancy myths and facts quiz to separate the myths and facts about being pregnant, and learn the truth behind healthy pregnancies!
Pregnancy Planning (Tips)Pregnancy planning is an important step in preparation for starting or expanding a family. Planning for a pregnancy includes taking prenatal vitamins, eating healthy for you and your baby, disease prevention (for both parents and baby) to prevent birth defects and infections, avoiding certain medications that may be harmful to your baby, how much weight gain is healthy exercise safety and pregnancy, travel during pregnancy.
Stages of Pregnancy: Week by WeekSee pictures on the various stages of pregnancy. See and learn what changes a woman's body goes through and view fetal images of how her baby grows during the 1st, 2nd and 3rd trimesters.
What Can Cause Infertility in a Woman?Infertility affects approximately 10%-15% of reproductive-aged couples. Cause of infertility could be due to issues in one or both partners. In about one-third of infertile couples, the issue is with the male partner, whereas in a third of the couples, there is an issue with the women.
What Happens When You Get Pregnant With PCOS?Women with PCOS have irregular periods, and some have numerous small cysts on the ovaries that can affect fertility. Pregnant women with PCOS may experience complications during pregnancy.
What Is PCOS, and How Do I Know If I Have It?The diagnosis of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) can be most accurately made by a doctor who will examine you and order certain blood tests and other investigations. The symptoms of PCOS may or may not be definitive at times.
What Is the Most Effective Treatment for PCOS?Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder that is best treated through lifestyle changes and medications.