One of the leading causes of infertility is the Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome(PCOS). It affects about 25-30% of women of reproductive age. Of these people, 73% have anovulation due to PCOS. That is to say, they do not produce eggs. PCOS affects fertility greatly, and it is usually quite the struggle for a person suffering from the syndrome to conceive. Even after conception, it still causes some complications during pregnancy.
If you have been asking severally if you can get pregnant with PCOS and irregular menstruation, or have been exploring options on how to get pregnant with PCOS quickly, then this article is for you.
A brief overview of PCOS.
PCOS is an acronym for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. It is mainly due to to hormonal imbalances. Insulin resistance, obesity, genetic predisposition, environmental factors, etc, can further aggravate PCOS.
The symptoms of PCOS as can be seen in a person who is suffering from it include weight gain, diabetes. Further complications include increased risk of heart problems, endometrial cancer, endometrial hyperplasia, and many more. And of course, infertility is a major complication that arises from PCOS.
Another major characteristic of PCOS is the presence of multiple cysts in the ovaries.. These cysts are due to multiple immature eggs in the follicles. They cannot be released, so they store up over time, and might cause the ovaries to be enlarged.
How does PCOS cause infertility?
To understand how PCOS causes infertility, we should briefly explore what’s normal, then what’s not normal.
The normal process of ovulation.
Ovulation is the process by which eggs are produced and released by the ovaries(egg factories) of a woman. An egg is produced and ready to be fertilized each month( which is roughly the length of a menstrual cycle for each woman). This is what makes a woman fertile.
There is a complex interplay of hormones that regulate this menstrual cycle. An hormone, called the Follicle Stimulating Hormone(FSH) recruits 15-20 follicles each cycle. These cycles are fluid-filled packets that contain the eggs. The eggs mature inside the follicles. However, only one of them attains full maturity and is thus released, the rest of them are suppressed. The Leutenizing Hormone(LH) also plays a role in maturation and release of eggs.
The egg goes to stay in the Fallopian tube(a connecting passageway between the ovaries and the womb) when it is released. It is in the Fallopian tube that the egg gets fertilized. Afterwards, if it does get fertilized, it moves on to the uterus, which has been earlier prepared and maintained by the hormones estrogen and progesterone. If no fertilization occurs, then there is menstrual flow. The egg breaks down and is reabsorbed into the body. And the process begins over again.
How PCOS causes problems with fertility.
It has been said that the menstrual cycle is a complex interplay of hormones. However, with the polycystic ovarian syndrome, there is hormonal imbalance. The process of ovulation thus cannot go on normally when the hormones are messed up. They cause some complications like:
- Hyperandrogenism: Hyperandrogenism is a situation in which there is too much of male hormones(like testosterone) in a woman’s body. Though a woman normally has small amounts of these androgens, with the condition of hyperandrogenism, it is much higher. This hyperandrogenism arises due to hyperinsulinemia(excessive insulin) that is in play in PCOS. The excess insulin:
- Stimulates the ovaries to produce more androgens than usual;
- Reduce the ability ability of the body to bind the androgens by suppressing the sex-hormone binding globulin(SHBG), so that the androgens can thus run freely in the blood;
So, with hyperandrogenism, there is too much male hormones, so the female tends towards maleness. Males don’t ovulate, so there is a problem with ovulation in women who have high levels of androgens in their bloodstream.
2. Hyperinsulinemia: This is a situation in which the levels of the hormone insulin in the blood go too high. It can be as a result of overproduction of insulin or insulin resistance. Aside that it causes hyperandrogenism, another complication that arise due to these overboard levels of insulin is that it suppresses apoptosis, the body’s way of naturally destroying unwanted cells. Consequently, the excess, unneeded, immature follicles are left to multiply. As a result, the immature follicles(which should have been destroyed or killed), are left in the ovaries. They accumulate there and cause an enlargement of the ovaries.
How does PCOS affect pregnancy?
PCOS significantly reduces the chances of fertility. Women with PCOS usually have experience quite a lot before they can eventually get pregnant. But as if that was not enough, they have further problems even after getting pregnant. The complications in pregnancy due to PCOS include:
- Increased risk of miscarriage;
- Higher chances of preterm birth;
- Greater risk of birth through cesarian section;
- Gestational diabetes;
- Macrosomia(heavy baby).
Ayurvedic take on how PCOS affects fertility and pregnancy.
PCOS is mainly a problem with the kapha dosha. Kapha blocks the other doshas from functioning normally.
Vata is supposed to control the maturation and exit of the egg from the follicle, including its movement to the Fallopian tube and to the womb afterwards. It also controls movement of the baby as it comes out of the womb during labour.
Pitta, on the other hand, is to regulate the hormones and the feedback between them.
Kapha prepares the structures in the womb that prepares it for pregnancy.
Unfortunately, the kapha disturbance blocks these. Also, with vata blocked, all movement stop. This causes all the immature follicles to remain stored in the ovaries.
Furthermore, in Ayurveda, both males and females have the Suskra dhatu(semen), which consist of estrogen and testosterone. Any disturbance in these hormones cause problems with fertility.
How to Improve chances of fertility despite PCOS.
Many people with the condition often wonder how to get pregnant with PCOS. Though there is no definite known cure for PCOS as it is, but here are certainly steps that can be taken to give these women a chance to hold a baby.
Here are some methods to get pregnant with PCOS:
- Weight loss: It is proven that losing 10% of body weight increases chances of fertility. You can lose weight by exercising regularly(about 30 minutes daily), and by minding what you eat.
- PCOS Diet: A PCOS diet can also help improve chances of conception. One major thing about a PCOS diet is that it contains food with low glycemic index and less carbohydrates. Thus, it makes sense to take a PCOS diet for pregnancy because women with less sugar in their blood generally tend to have better ovulation.
- Surgery: Surgical techniques like ovarian drilling also help to improve fertility. However, the effects are short-lived and only remain effective for 6-8 months.
- In-vitro fertillization: This involves taking an egg out of the ovary and introducing semen into it manually. It helps to improve chances of fertility in PCOS.
- Medications such as clomid help ovulation too. However, they should be used with caution, if at all, because these medications increase the risk for ovarian cancer.
Natural Ayurvedic ways to get pregnant with PCOS.
There are many Ayurvedic herbs and wisdom for fertility.
- Shatavari: This a rich source of vitamins and minerals. It has antioxidant properties so that it can protect the reproductive system. It increases insulin sensitivity and boosts fertility as a whole.
- Guduchi: This herb helps to reduce blood sugar levels. Aside this, it helps boost immunity and sex drive in females, and also treats liver conditions and cancers as well.
- Lodhra: It is rich in flavonol glycosides. These compounds help regulate hormones, improve fertility and reduce uterine disorders generally.
- Shilajit: This helps rejuvenate the female reproductive system. It also helps to manage iron deficiency, which is a common problem seen in women with PCOS who bleed heavily and lose a lot of iron through blood loss.
- Vibhitaki: Vibhitaki helps to improve sugar metabolism. In addition, it has anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties that work well for digestive problems.
- Basti(Herbal Enema): This helps to regulate imbalanced vata dosha, in order to ‘get things moving’.
- Vaman: This is a therapy that uses herbs to induce vomiting. It is intended to get rid of excess kapha.
- Yoga therapy.
How to reduce the risk of pregnancy complications in PCOS.
After conception, it is necessary to do all that can be done to see it through. To get a better chance of successful pregnancy and delivery, then you should consider:
- Attaining a healthy weight before pregnancy. Your body mass index(BMI) should not be more than 30;
- Reduce body sugar levels to an healthy one before pregnancy;
Simple dietary and lifestyle techniques with extreme caution is necessary too. Hope is not lost. With these tips, you can still have a baby despite PCOS.