PCOS awareness has become quite important. Let’s look at some of the most important questions that women have regarding PCOS and Pregnancy. We will incorporate everything from getting pregnant, rate of miscarriage, complications you can have during pregnancy etc.
What is PCOS and what are the stats of PCOS in India?
Well, the statistics in India doesn’t seem so good. PCOS is on the rise in India. 1 in 10 women is suffering from PCOS. Among these women, 20-25% of women are of childbearing age. 60% of those who have PCOS are obese, which means junk foods and unhealthy lifestyle is one of the most important factors that has contributed to these staggering numbers.
A woman suffering from PCOS is basically suffering from hormonal imbalance.
PCOS causes endocrine disorders in women.
This can mess up with the production of FSH, the hormone responsible to develop the follicle and the egg and LH, the one responsible for releasing the egg each month. Thus, leading to the formation of small cysts around the ovary. PCOS can cause an imbalance in your insulin resistance. It also produces more male hormones like androgen and testosterone in your body.
Symptoms of PCOS generally include irregular periods, difficulty in getting pregnant, sudden weight gain, baldness, excessive hair growth and acne.
Complications that arise with PCOS:
- Irregular Periods → Irregular Ovulation → Difficulty in Getting Pregnant
- Increased Insulin resistance → More chances of developing diabetes
- High Cholesterol Levels
- Depression and Anxiety
- Elevated Levels of C-Reactive Protein → Increased chances of Cardiovascular diseases
- Baldness and Acne
- Sleep Apnea
- Higher risk of miscarriage, Gestational Diabetes etc. – But, more on that later!
Causes of PCOS is actually not known in many cases. The factors can be genetic, lifestyle or innate complications.
Getting pregnant with PCOS:
PCOS is leading cause of female fertility. It messes up your ovulation and it’s very important to have sex around ovulation days to get pregnant. Some women with PCOS don’t ovulate at all for a period of time, again one of the reasons it takes so much time for them to get pregnant.
Since PCOS messes up with egg formation and ripening, it can severely affect the fertility. Here are some medications that your doctor might prescribe to get pregnant faster.
- Metformin: Metformin helps to prevent high insulin-related problems in women. It has been used to control diabetes due to its insulin controlling properties. The drug has to be taken according to the prescription in order for it to work perfectly.
- Clomid: Clomid helps by regulating the ovulation process. It tricks the brain into thinking body’s estrogen levels are low. Clomiphene has a structure similar to estrogen. This lets it bind to the estrogen receptors inside the body. Once this happens brain interprets there is a low estrogen in the body. Low estrogen stimulates the brain to secrete ‘FSH’ or Follicle Stimulating Hormone. This kickstarts the ovulation process. Clomid has had high success rates of conception among women suffering from PCOS.
- Gonadotrophins: This treatment is generally used after the Clomid treatment doesn’t work. Gonadotrophins therapy or FSH injections help almost 60% of the women to get pregnant. FSH stimulates the ovaries to produce a follicle which contains an oocyte (or an egg). The number of cycles that are included in your treatment depends on how your body reacts to this medication.
Other natural ways to try while you are trying to get pregnant with PCOS are:
- Losing Weight: It’s been proven that reducing the weight by 5-10% of your current weight can get down insulin resistance to as much as 50%. This could make a big difference in your ovulation process. Try to get your BMI into a healthy range. You also need to focus on your diet. Indian food revolves around using up a lot of oil while cooking. Cut the extra oil off. Try to substitute it with olive oil. But don’t overdo it either.
- Exercising is very important while trying to lose weight. Sneak in some HIIT, walking, strength training or just do some Yoga. Any kind of exercise an hour a day for 5 days a week would have a huge difference.
- Cut out sodas, sugars, deep-fried foods from your diet. Have normal healthy Indian food like phulkas, curries, dals etc. Make sure you don’t make them unhealthy by adding unnecessary oil.
- Have foods with low GI. Cut out all the foods that have high GI or Glycemic index. Foods with low GI are slowly absorbed by the body and hence, don’t have a sudden spike in your insulin levels. Some low GI foods include stone ground whole wheat, oats, sweet potato, corn, lentils, pulses, most fruits, nonstarchy vegetables, and grains. High GI foods are all-purpose flour a.k.a maida, corn flakes, russet potato, pumpkin, rice cakes etc.
- Get in some supplements. Most women with PCOS are deficient in Vitamin D and their symptoms completely go away with the deficiency. So, get yourself checked. Some nutritional deficiencies can trigger hormonal imbalances.
- Lower your stress levels. Women with PCOS generally have higher levels of anxiety and depression. So, you do need to work on managing your stress.
- Try to do yoga and breathing exercises like Pranayama. Get some Magnesium supplements.
- Feed your body with fat. Healthy Fats like coconut oil, seeds, nuts, ghee etc. help in the development of the brain and are important for its functioning.
- Sleep for at least 7 hours every day.
- Take an Epsom Salt Bath. Epsom Salt Baths at least 3 times a week is one of the best natural remedies suggested for depression and anxiety.
- You can also try natural remedies such as royal jelly, saw palmetto, licorice, raw cacao etc. Some of them have been proven to help a lot of women get over their problems.
Do CONSULT your doctor before trying on any diet regimen. Depending on the severity PCOS has had on your fertility, it might or might not work for you.
Miscarriage and PCOS:
Women with PCOS are more prone to miscarriage than others. The causes of this are not yet fully known. Just like the cause and cure of PCOS is still not clear. It has been pointed out thought that,
Hormonal imbalances can trigger miscarriages in women.
Miscarriage rates in women with PCOS is around 45-50% as compared to the average of around 15-25%. That’s around a two-fold increase for women suffering from this condition.
Complications that can arise during pregnancy if you have PCOS:
Mothers who are suffering from PCOS also have a higher risk of Gestational Diabetes, Preeclampsia, Premature birth and C-section. Babies born to mothers having PCOS have a higher chance of being in a neonatal care unit.
Some of these conditions may be unavoidable depending on how severely PCOS has affected you. Your doctor might put you on certain medications that will make your pregnancy journey better. Just make sure that you are having healthy, low GI foods and exercising. Keep your weight in control. There are many women who go on to deliver healthy babies even after suffering from PCOS. Here are some success stories.