In a normal woman, every month 4-5 small follicles are recruited in one ovary from the pool of eggs and one of the follicle becomes dominant follicle and releases an egg. In a woman with PCOS, her ovaries produce abnormally high levels of a male hormone that prevents follicles from opening and releasing eggs – due to which the periods becomes irregular or are absent. The follicles remain in the ovaries as cysts, making it increasingly difficult (but not impossible) to conceive.
How does PCOS influence fertility?
The biggest challenge with PCOS is that it affects the normal hormonal pathways (the pathways that are involved in the production of eggs and preparation of the uterus for pregnancy). For a woman with PCOS, becoming pregnant or staying pregnant is quite a bit challenging due to irregular periods, the absence of ovulation, and the lack of preparedness of the endometrium (the lining of the uterus) to sustain the pregnancy. Now, let us understand how to increase your chances of pregnancy.
How to increase the chances of pregnancy when you have PCOS?
You don’t have to worry even if you have got PCOS as there are several ways including both natural and conventional by which you can make your hormonal pathways normal and increase your chances of getting pregnant soon. Your lifestyle and nutrition play an important role in augmenting your chances of becoming pregnant with PCOS. The approach we follow to ensure this includes the following natural measures:
Follow a low-glycemic load diet
With my experience, I can say that Low-glycemic diet is essential to cope up with insulin resistance and imbalanced sex hormones and to increase fertility. The best way to do this is by limiting carbohydrate intake to 16 grams per meal and 7 grams per snack. Furthermore, if you are more active, you may require a slightly higher carbohydrate intake. Next, you can check your glycemic load by including fiber, proteins and healthy fats in your diet along with carbohydrates.
The other vital things that you can include limiting sugars, high fructose syrups, white rice, white potatoes, white flour, and other highly processed refined sugars and starches. If you do this successfully, then you will be able to reduce insulin resistance, decrease androgens, and regularize ovulation & menses. This is basically what the drug metformin accomplishes, too.
It has been noted in about 35 to 60% of the women with PCOS that a high waist-to-hip ratio is often linked with high estrogen, androgen and insulin levels, which are responsible for disrupting normal ovulation and fertility. Simply losing just 5% of your weight can lead to more regular menstrual cycles and ovulation. Decreasing the carbohydrates load as mentioned above will also help you to reach and maintain a healthy weight.
Don’t wait for anything starts getting into the groove and indulge yourself in some form of physical activity to reduce insulin resistance and have a positive effect on your body and mind.
What is the treatment for PCOS-related infertility?
Metformin is a drug often prescribed for you if you have PCOS and are trying to get pregnant. It helps reduce high insulin levels and stabilize hormones. Thus, metformin, by lowering insulin resistance helps induce ovulation. There are some nutritional supplements like Vitamin D, A-Acetyl Cysteine, and Myoinositol that work like metformin and help lower insulin resistance.
Ovulation induction involves the use of medication to stimulate the development of one or more mature follicles (where eggs develop) in the ovaries of women who have ovulation problems and infertility. Ovulation induction can be done with Clomiphene, Injectable Gonadotrophins and IVF procedures.
The bottom line is that we recommend a woman with PCOS to try several if not all of the lifestyle recommendation to augment her body’s fertility. We recommend this for at least 6 months, and then address the next measures once the cycle becomes more regular. If you are the one with PCOS and are unable to conceive, then meet your gynaecologist and discuss your case – delaying consultation for no reason can make the condition worst, and, as the time passes, conceiving becomes more and more difficult.