1. PCOS

Flo Fact-Checking Standards

Every piece of content at Flo Health adheres to the highest editorial standards for language, style, and medical accuracy. To learn what we do to deliver the best health and lifestyle insights to you, check out our content review principles.

Getting Pregnant with PCOS: Everything You Need to Know

Getting pregnant with PCOS can be difficult, but that doesn't mean it's impossible. While PCOS can affect your hormones and therefore your fertility, there are medical treatments and lifestyle changes you can make to help increase your chances of getting pregnant. Learn more about how PCOS affects your ability to conceive and what you can do about it below.

Why is it harder to get pregnant with PCOS?

The main reason PCOS makes it more difficult to conceive is that it often prevents ovulation from occurring, and ovulation has to happen in order for pregnancy to be possible. In addition, PCOS causes hormonal imbalances that change the quality of your cervical fluid, making it harder for sperm to survive.

What are the chances of getting pregnant with PCOS? 

While there are no hard and fast stats on the chances of getting pregnant with PCOS, about 70 percent of women with the condition struggle to get pregnant. This is likely because they aren’t ovulating, are ovulating sporadically, or don't have enough progesterone naturally to support a pregnancy in its early stages.

How long does it take to get pregnant with PCOS?

There are no guarantees when it comes to getting pregnant with or without PCOS, and there's no specific time frame for when you're likely to get pregnant after starting treatment for PCOS. If you haven't yet been diagnosed with PCOS officially, many doctors will want you to try to get pregnant naturally for about a year before they start ordering tests to see if there is an underlying issue. However, if you are over the age of 35 or experiencing miscarriages, the doctor may not want to wait as long.

Ways to get pregnant with PCOS 

Getting pregnant with PCOS naturally may be more difficult, but the best way to increase your chances is to have unprotected sex frequently. Because women with PCOS don't ovulate on a regular interval, timing sex for the middle of your cycle — people often use day 14 as a default — may not work. If you have long cycles, you may be ovulating closer to day 20-22, which can mean that if you default to day 14, you’re a full week off from your optimum conception time. On the other hand, if you have short cycles, you may ovulate as early as day 9 or 10, which would make sex on day 14 too late. The best way to find out when you're ovulating is to track your fertility signs.

Trying to get pregnant with PCOS after the age of 35 can be even more difficult and is likely to require medical intervention. Your doctor may be able to prescribe medications, such as metformin or progestines, and give you advice on lifestyle changes that can increase your chances of conception.

In general, the earlier you get treatment for your PCOS, the better your chances are of getting pregnant successfully. This may mean that you have to be more adamant with your health care providers when you ask for the blood tests that can diagnose PCOS so you can move on to treatments more quickly.

Tips for getting pregnant with PCOS

While your chances of getting pregnant with PCOS may be lower, there are still several things you can do to increase those chances. Normalizing your hormones and periods is the first step. Your doctor may prescribe metformin, which can help your body better deal with insulin and help regulate your periods. While this may seem counterproductive if you're trying to get pregnant, your doctor may want you to go on hormonal birth control to regulate your periods for a few months before coming off it and trying to get pregnant again.

Getting enough exercise and eating a healthy, low-sugar diet can also help regulate hormones. It can also help you lose weight which, if you are overweight, can increase your chances of getting pregnant.

Normalizing your hormones and periods is the first step to get pregnant with PCOS. Losing weight can also increase your chances of getting pregnant.

Charting your cycles is another tactic that can help you get pregnant with PCOS. This is because women with PCOS often have irregular periods, which means irregular ovulation or no ovulation at all. By tracking basal body temperature, cervical fluid, and the position of your cervix, you can get a better understanding of when you're ovulating so you can time sex for an increased chance of conception.

How can PCOS affect pregnancy? 

Having PCOS, especially if it is untreated, can increase your chances of miscarriage. This is because women with PCOS have lower levels of the hormone progesterone, which is responsible for ensuring the endometrium lining is thick enough to support the implantation and growth of an embryo. Progesterone is also needed post-implantation for the embryo to continue to grow and develop until around weeks 10–12, when the placenta takes over the production of progesterone. This means low levels of progesterone can increase your risk of an early miscarriage, possibly even before you know for sure that you're pregnant.

Having PCOS, especially if it is untreated, can increase your chances of miscarriage. Women with PCOS have lower levels progesterone, which is responsible for ensuring the endometrium lining is thick enough to support the implantation and growth of an embryo.

PCOS can also increase your chances of gaining too much weight during the pregnancy and developing gestational diabetes because your body doesn’t respond to insulin as it should. To combat this, your doctor may recommend that you follow a diabetic-style diet during pregnancy and have extra monitoring to ensure that your weight and the baby's growth are on track.

When to seek medical help

It's normal to need help getting pregnant with PCOS. If you're struggling with infertility and have been trying to get pregnant for more than a year, PCOS may be the cause. If you think you may have PCOS or are experiencing symptoms like irregular periods, excess facial hair, and difficulty losing weight, it's a good idea to talk to your doctor. They can run blood tests and do an ultrasound to see if PCOS is the issue and advise you on ways to control your PCOS and increase your chances of getting pregnant. Bring in any charts you have of your cycles as well as a list of possible PCOS symptoms that notes their onset dates and severity— including mental health issues like depression and anxiety that can also be caused by PCOS. Doing so can help your doctor make an accurate diagnosis.

If you think you may have PCOS or are experiencing symptoms like irregular periods, excess facial hair, and difficulty losing weight, it's a good idea to talk to your doctor.

If you're having difficulty getting pregnant with PCOS, you're not alone. While PCOS can cause changes in your body that make it harder to get and stay pregnant, there are treatment options available. Talking to your health care provider is the first step in finding out what you can do to improve your chances of conceiving and successfully carrying a pregnancy to term.

 

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pcos/symptoms-causes/syc-20353439
https://www.webmd.com/women/treatment-pcos#1
https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/polycystic-ovary-syndrome
https://www.pcosaa.org/symptoms
https://www.yourfertility.org.au/everyone/health-medical/polycystic-ovary-syndrome-pcos

Read this next