If you’re looking to get pregnant but have been diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) then you’ve come to the right place.
PCOS is a leading cause of infertility among women across the globe. It’s known as the silent killer for a very good reason. Studies show that nearly one in ten women of childbearing age is at risk of developing PCOS in her life and about 80 percent of all infertility cases are linked with PCOS. Knowing these statistics and results, many women lose hope in their arduous pursuit of conceiving a child.
I have many female patients who are seeking treatment for their chronic PCOS symptoms. One question that occurs time and time again is whether they can get pregnant with their condition? Many feel hopeless.
While PCOS can be a debilitating condition,today, I want to dig into this topic PCOS and pregnancy in quite some detail.
Can You Get Pregnant With PCOS?
Getting pregnant with PCOS can be difficult. I’m not going to lie to you. But it’s only because no two women are alike when it comes to PCOS. The severe imbalance of hormones disrupts many aspects of women’s ovulatory function. Not only is the menstrual cycle affected, but PCOS also affects the quality and maturation process of the eggs, which is often overlooked.
However, know this: infertility caused by PCOS is treatable.
Yes. There is hope. In fact, there’s more than just hope! It’s completely doable if you follow the right steps and address the BIG picture when it comes to PCOS. Carry on reading and I’ll walk you through the entire process.
1. You first need to understand how PCOS and infertility are related
PCOS and infertility are incredibly common and it doesn’t take a whole lot of scientific research to establish that 8 out of 10 women with PCOS struggle with pregnancy.
To start off, women diagnosed with PCOS don’t have a regular menstrual cycle. Sometimes it’s too long, sometimes it’s too short and sometimes there is no cycle.
That’s enough to give anyone a clue about the relationship between infertility and PCOS. What’s happening is that the tiny follicles that hold your eggs in place until maturation are releasing them into your uterus prematurely or not at all. And immature eggs aren’t capable of fertilization.
Now unfortunately, I see many women who either choose to or are recommended by their doctors to take birth control pills to help regulate their menstrual cycle. However, birth control pills do nothing to address the root cause of an irregular cycle.
In many cases, the pill can make things much worse. Some types of birth control use synthetic progestins that have a “high androgen index,” which means they are testosterone-like.This is a bad combination for the women that already have PCOS and high androgen levels. Be sure your prescribing doctor does not have you on one of these. Surprisingly, I have caught this mistake many times.
The consequences of the Pill, for example, include nutritional imbalances, copper overload, oxidative stress, gut inflammation, and further imbalances between progesterone and estrogen. All of these can further thwart your attempts at pregnancy.
All they’re doing is providing a band-aid solution to a complex hormonal problem. As highlighted in my previous article here, pills are only a means of managing or masking your symptoms and should be taken as a last resort.
If you want to get pregnant—you first need a normal cycle! You need to ovulate. And for every month that goes by where you don’t ovulate, you create the potential for Estrogen Dominance.
At the heart of PCOS is an abnormally high level of insulin as well as androgens such as testosterone, sometimes DHEA and androstenedione. These imbalances of insulin and androgens lead to chronic inflammation in the body. Both these problems wreak havoc on the function of your ovaries.
Your diet and lifestyle can either help your PCOS symptoms or hurt your PCOS symptoms. If you tend to consume lots of sugar because of the PCOS sugar cravings, you’re basically fueling the fire. If you’re drinking those caramel vanilla lattes, you’re consuming additional sugars and calories you don’t need. It’s best to avoid all processed foods and high glycemic foods. I’ve written in great detail about maintaining a healthy diet with PCOS. You can catch the article here.
Chronic inflammation is also closely related to how our cells respond to glucose. It doesn’t matter if you’re thin or you experience unfair weight gain thanks to the classical symptoms of PCOS; a vast majority of PCOS patients have an insulin resistance problem.
Insulin is an important hormone that controls many cellular processes in our body. When our insulin levels are unbalanced, many other hormones also get out of balance. So this leads the ovaries to produce excess androgens, which causes eggs to ovulate before they mature and the cycle just goes on.
But PCOS and infertility are more than just about ovulating properly.
The thing is, if you want to get pregnant, not only do you need to ovulate but you also need to be producing high-quality eggs. And that’s one of the reasons why external solutions like birth control pills or hormone injections cannot resolve the infertility problem.
What’s probably worse is that for those lucky few PCOS patients who do manage to get pregnant, they’re more at risk for miscarriages and often experience early pregnancy loss.
This has been scientifically proven even after variables like body weight, age, and genetics were controlled.
2. Diet and lifestyle changes can be powerful tools against PCOS infertility
Many gynecologists and fertility doctors would like you to believe that after your PCOS diagnosis, you’ll be able to get pregnant with the help of special fertility treatments. Frankly, there is little to no truth behind this notion.
If you are struggling with weight gain thanks to PCOS and you’ve been to a doctor, then it’s likely that your doctor suggested you lose weight first prior to conceiving. Right?
Although losing weight is an important element in helping your reproductive system bloom to life, the problem is that losing weight is usually not enough. There are many layers to PCOS that need to be addressed and these “layers” is what I call the Big Picture. You can’t treat every woman who has PCOS the same way. This is part of the reason why traditional treatments are such a failure for women who have PCOS.
But if you’re unable to work with a doctor who specializes in functional medicine; starting to clean up your diet alone can have profound effects on your ovulation cycle and overall health.
Many women, out of desperation, give into the next fertility treatment advertisement they come across, thinking that maybe the diet isn’t working for them. Patience is the key here. It pays to have a long term perspective on the situation. Of course, you’d want to go with an option that guarantees a healthy, full-term pregnancy to you.
3. Know when to go for fertility treatment and when not to
To be fair, I will say that we’re lucky to find ourselves in a technologically advanced era where fertility treatments are an option to consider. But the main question here is; should you go for it?
Fertility treatments can be a viable option if a woman is in her late 30s and is worried if the time needed to treat her PCOS with lifestyle and dietary changes is not worth the wait.
Many studies show that the quality of the egg can be affected by the woman’s age. Egg quality is usually the best during the late 20s.
If you choose to go for fertility treatment, remember that it’s not going to fix the underlying cause of your PCOS condition. Consider fertility treatments a method to bypass the root cause, kind of like how birth control pills do.
My training in functional medicine and functional endocrinology has taught me the futility of the band-aid treatments.
4. Consider supplements
In my previous article, I talked about the benefits of supplementation for PCOS patients. Among them, I would say Myo-inositol is another useful option for many women looking to boost their fertility prospects.
The great thing about Myo-inositol is that it’s completely safe and easily affordable. Many scientific studies have tested Myo-inositol on women and the results have shown that the egg quality is greatly improved following regular intake of the supplement.
Myo-inositol is also known to be significantly more effective than birth control pills at improving and regulating ovarian function and has increased chances of women getting pregnant by nearly half.
One inositol supplement that I often recommend to my PCOS patients is this D-Chiro Inositol supplement. DCI is particularly great for improving the insulin sensitivity in your body. What this does is that it allows the insulin produced by your pancreas to break down the glucose in your body. The excess fat is no longer being stored and the levels of insulin decrease.
Additionally, the DCI prompts the ovaries to limit the release of testosterone. When insulin levels are high, the ovaries naturally release more androgens and that’s what a lot of PCOS patients struggle with. So with DCI, you’re getting the best of both worlds because you no longer have insulin resistance and the decrease in testosterone levels means reduced inflammation in the body.
You won’t be able to find abundant DCI in foods, no matter how healthy they are. So it’s imperative that you use this supplement to keep a sustained intake. We recommend taking one 600mg capsule in the morning with your breakfast. You can also divide the dose to 300mg and have it with any two meals across the day. Also, do not take an extra dose if you miss or skip your timed dose.
Getting pregnant with PCOS is most definitely possible. Work with a functional medicine doctor who will look at the BIG picture of PCOS—someone who’ll address all the layers including diet and nutrition. As outlined in today’s article, it’s important that you target the root cause of your illness before rushing out for IVF treatment or any kind of other band-aid treatment.
We’ve already discussed the futility of band-aid solutions like birth control pills and fertility treatments to regulate a dysfunctional ovulation cycle and improve chances of conceiving.
With over 20 years worth of experience in functional medicine, I realize the importance of holistic treatment options and I urge all clients to work toward a healthy diet and PCOS-friendly lifestyle. This includes getting regular exercise and managing your stress levels. I have also mentioned the usefulness of Myo-inositol supplements in improving fertility because they target your key PCOS symptoms simultaneously: insulin resistance and excess androgen production. While there are many things to consider when you address the root cause of PCOS, hopefully you can see the importance of working with a functional medicine practitioner.
Get In Touch With Dr. Hagmeyer
Interested in working with my office? Great! We can’t wait to help you!
Whether you’re looking for nutritional counseling to curb your PCOS symptoms or wish to incorporate the right supplement to improve your chances of fertility, I’ve got you covered.
Visit this link and complete a short health questionnaire. Tell me a bit more about your health goals and the kind of help you’re interested in. My office will take care of the rest!
Once you’ve submitted the form, be sure to check your email. Within 15 minutes, my office will send you an email on how to get started with a list of suggested recommendations for your PCOS infertility situation.