If you’re one of the 10% of women coping with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and you want to get pregnant, you need to learn as much as you can about your ovaries, periods, and fertility.
Books like A Patient’s Guide to PCOS: Understanding–and Reversing–Polycystic Ovary Syndrome can be very helpful for women with PCOS, especially if they want to get pregnant. And, here are the symptoms and treatments of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, plus tips on getting pregnant…
Symptoms of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
In What to Eat Before, During, and After Pregnancy, Judith Brown says that polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is often underdiagnosed because of variations in signs and symptoms. However, women with PCOS generally experience several of the following conditions:
- Irregular menstrual cycles (periods) and no ovulation
- Insulin resistance
- Elevated blood levels of androgens, such as testosterone
- Polycystic ovaries (the outer layers of the ovaries are thick and hard)
- Central or abdomenal obesity
- Excess body hair
- Elevated blood levels of triglycerides and low levels of HDL cholesterol
How Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) Affects Fertility and Getting Pregnant
Brown explains that polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) leads to insulin resistance, which triggers high levels of insulin.
“High levels of insulin trigger increased production of testosterone by the ovaries, and that disrupts egg development,” writes Brown in What to Eat Before, During, and After Pregnancy. High insulin levels are also connected to elevated triglycerides, low levels of HDL cholesterol, and excess hair growth.
“Women with PCOS are at increased risk of developing infertility, gestational diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease,” she says.
Treatment for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
Good news! Weight loss and regular exercise can decrease insulin resistance and insulin levels. When your insulin levels drop, your testosterone and triglyceride levels will decrease, too. Your body will start ovulating again, which increases your chances of getting pregnant.
When your body starts ovulating, Brown says, your fertility will improve. She also mentions insulin-sensitizing drugs – such as metformin – which can have the same effects as weight loss and exercise, and simulate ovulation. Though the immediate effects of medication can work to improve conception, Brown says, “Long term, however, maintaining normal weight and exercise are the keys to managing PCOS and insulin resistance.”