September Is PCOS Awareness Month: See Expert Advice On Getting Pregnant Despite The Odds

September is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) Awareness Month. It is a hormonal problem that interferes with a woman’s reproductive system. When you have PCOS, your ovaries are larger than normal and can have many tiny cysts that contain immature eggs.

Living with this disorder and getting pregnant is a common dual concern for many women of childbearing age. As a result of its wide range of symptoms, PCOS is the most common hormonal disturbance of premenopausal women and a leading cause of infertility. Life with this disorder can be complex without medical guidance, says fertility expert, Abayomi Ajayi.

Read his full article addressing the subject below, the symptoms, and treatment leading to conception for many women.

Basically, PCOS is a common condition, and being overweight worsens all the clinical features. These clinical features include reproductive issues such as reduced frequency of ovulation and irregular menstrual cycles, reduced fertility, polycystic ovaries, and high levels of male hormones.

READ ALSO: How To Achieve Pregnancy Despite Hyperprolactenemia, PCOS & Other Hormone Imbalance Problems- Fertility Expert, Abayomi Ajayi

These can cause symptoms such as unwanted facial or body hair growth and acne. There are also risk factors for diabetes and cardiovascular diseases including high levels of insulin or insulin resistance and abnormal cholesterol levels.

Your quality of life could be adversely affected and you may have bouts of anxiety and depression.

Can women with PCOS conceive?

This is often the most asked question. The short answer is yes. Having PCOS does not mean you can’t get pregnant because even though it is one of the most common causes of infertility in women, PCOS is treatable.

If you are diagnosed with PCOS, you have a hormonal imbalance that interferes with the growth and release of eggs from your ovaries (ovulation). You are most likely aware that if you don’t ovulate, you can’t get pregnant. The good news is that fertility treatment is available for PCOS. So if you have PCOS and getting pregnant is your ultimate dream, all hope is not lost. There is help within your reach.

There are some treatments that can help women with PCOS have healthy pregnancies. Several women with this condition have been successfully treated and they have been able to conceive their own children.

While living with PCOS and getting pregnant is challenging because your body doesn’t produce the hormones necessary for regular ovulation, it is quite possible to achieve your dream of parenthood, provided you consult the right physician at the right time.

Without certain hormones, the egg inside your ovary does not fully mature. The follicle that holds the egg still grows and is filled with fluid. However, there is no mature egg to rupture it, so it remains as a cyst.

The cysts in PCOS produce higher than normal amounts of androgens (male sex hormones), which blocks ovulation. Because no mature egg is released, ovulation fails to occur and the hormone progesterone is not made. This results in an irregular or absent menstrual cycle.

One of the commonest symptoms of PCOS is that it can cause you to miss your menstrual period or have irregular periods. Your doctor may prescribe birth control pills that contain estrogen and progestin. These pills can help regulate your menstrual cycle by reducing androgen production.

Basically, PCOS causes your body to produce abnormal levels of androgens (male hormones). Androgens are important in the development of male sex organs and other male traits but in women, androgens are usually converted into estrogen.

High levels of androgens interfere with the development of your eggs and the regular release of your eggs. If a healthy egg isn’t released, it can’t be fertilised by the sperms from the male, meaning you can’t get pregnant.

If necessary, you may be given a progestin-only pill to be taken for about two weeks a month, for 1-2 months. It’s also designed to help regulate your period. It is important to stress that you won’t be able to get pregnant while you’re taking birth control pills for PCOS, but if you need help ovulating so that you can become pregnant, there are certain medicines that may help.

One of such medications is clomiphene, an anti-estrogen drug that you take at the beginning of your cycle. If clomiphene doesn’t help with ovulation, you may be prescribed with another drug called metformin.

If clomiphene and metformin don’t work, then you would probably require shots of the Follicle Simulating Hormone and Lutenizing Hormone.

If you have PCOS and you want to get pregnant, you should work with a competent fertility specialist. The specialist will help make sure you get the right dose of medicines, help with any problems you have, and schedule regular checkups and ultrasounds to see how you’re doing.

Fertility drugs may help symptoms of PCOS in an attempt to temporarily assist with your ovulation.

One disadvantage with having PCOS and getting pregnant with fertility drugs is that these drugs tend to work in only one cycle. A developing follicle may take up to three cycles to grow and mature. This means the egg has gone through early growth stages in an abnormal hormonal environment, which may result in a poor quality egg.

In vitro fertilisation is a great option for getting pregnant with PCOS and many women have had great success with IVF, getting pregnant, and bringing home healthy babies.

A type of minimally-invasive surgery can be used to induce ovulation by helping to lower male hormone levels and induce ovulation, but the effects are temporary.

There are steps you can take to naturally bring about ovulation. By maintaining healthy body weight and eating right.

Some women report complete relief of PCOS symptoms after changing their diet and exercise habits. Weight loss can help to regulate your cycle, improve the frequency of ovulation, lower androgen levels and thereby improve your fertility.

If you do become pregnant with PCOS, you may wonder how the syndrome will affect your pregnancy. Having PCOS and getting pregnant do have some challenges, but in general, women with PCOS do experience healthy pregnancies.

If you have PCOS and getting pregnant is your ultimate goal, talk to your doctor soon. Your doctor will help you find the most effective treatment options, including fertility-boosting medications and high-tech modalities, if necessary, to help you get pregnant and start a family.

You may require weight loss if you are obese or overweight as this may help get your hormones back to normal levels. Losing 10 percent of your body weight may help your menstrual cycle become more predictable. Quite often this should help you get pregnant.

If your period isn’t happening when it should, or you’ve already been diagnosed with PCOS, work closely with your fertility specialist to help get it under control and towards achieving your dream of parenthood.

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