Pregnancy and PCOS

What is PCOS?

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is one of the most common causes of impaired fertility that women encounter. Whilst the exact cause of this syndrome is unknown, it is related to the imbalance of reproductive hormones. This hormonal imbalance directly influences the ovary and so brings about problems with the ovulation of female eggs; the egg may not develop as normal or simply may not be released. However- having PCOS does not mean you can’t get pregnant! While PCOS is common, it is treatable, and speaking to your health advisor or doctor for more information is the best way forward.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of PCOS vary widely, from physical issues of acne or unusual body and facial hair growth, to depression and anxiety. Irregular periods are most common feature, meaning the ovaries do not regularly release eggs, and so often leads to the diagnosis of PCOS. Another feature is excess androgen, hormones typically associated with males, that result in the increase in uncommon placement of hair on the female body. As in the name, Polycystic ovaries are symptomatic of this condition. This is when the ovaries enlarge and contain fluid-filled sacs, called follicles, that then surround the eggs.

How is PCOS treated?

While there is no cure for PCOS, there are treatments available for the symptoms. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, especially around weight, is a great way to help alleviate symptoms. Medication is available to combat the excess hair growth, irregular periods, and of course issues regarding fertility. However, even if the PCOS medication doesn’t seem to be working and the infertility treatment becomes ineffective, there are still alternatives; A simple surgical procedure may be recommended. With treatment, PCOS does not stop the ability to get pregnant.

Can PCOS affect my pregnancy?

Unfortunately, PCOS can cause issues during pregnancy for both the mother and baby. PCOS increases the rate of miscarriages, preeclampsia and gestational diabetes, with a Caesarean Section more likely. In terms of affecting the baby, it has higher risks of being heavy-macrosomia- as well as spending more time in neonatal intensive care unit. Whilst this may sound intimidating, there are ways to lower the likelihood of these risks. By ensuring a healthy bodyweight is achieved, as well as reaching healthy levels of blood sugar, before pregnancy occurs, these complications are minimised. Many doctors also suggest the consumption of folic acid regardless of having PCOS or not.