PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) is a gynaecological disorder that affects the ovaries. Symptoms include increased facial hair, obesity, infertility, and raised androgen levels. Globally, about 5-10% of women of childbearing age suffer from it. In the Middle East, the prevalence is higher and ranges from 7% in Iran to 28% according to certain studies in the UAE. OB-GYNs in the region have widely acknowledged that PCOS is the leading cause of infertility here.
If you suffer with PCOS and are thinking about trying for a baby, it’d be worth catching up on some of the latest medical research, as outlined in this scientific paper. If you can’t be bothered to read the whole thing, here’s the breakdown:
If you’re trying to have a baby, will PCOS hurt your chances?
- Women with PCOS have a difficult time getting pregnant. Moreover, artificial reproductive technologies (ARTs) like artificial insemination or IVF yield have a lower chance of success.
- During IVF, ovarian hyper stimulation syndrome is more prevalent. This syndrome refers to when the ovaries produce more than one egg as a response to the hormones given in the IVF cycle. However, even though the number of eggs is increased, their quality suffers. This affects the success rate of IVF – chances that it will lead to a successful pregnancy.
Do you have PCOS and are already pregnant? Yay!! Congratulations! But how will PCOS affect your pregnancy?
- There is an increased incidence of diabetes and high blood pressure in pregnancy, and the likelihood that the pregnancy will require a caesarean section.
- Women suffering from PCOS commonly have low grade inflammation – compare it to your body constantly fighting a disease, but it’s not doing so in a full-blown manner. Pregnancy seems to increase this inflammation, affecting the quality of the placenta (a pregnant woman’s conduit between her and the baby).
- The preterm delivery rate is higher, especially for women who have high levels of androgen hormones which is characterized by excess facial hair and obesity.
- Babies could be born bigger than usual – as a result of the diabetes in pregnancy. However, there are also chances of low birth weight because the abnormal placental function.
Ok we gave you a lot of information on PCOS, but what can you do about it?
- Reducing weight has a major impact on the above findings. Even a weight loss of 5-10% could improve the reliability of ovulation, increase chances of getting pregnant, and decrease the incidence of diabetes and high blood pressure in pregnancy. So, if you weigh 100kg, dropping your weight to 95kgs would have a positive impact on your chances of getting pregnant.
PCOS is frequently underdiagnosed. It is possible that you, or someone you know, may be suffering from it. If you have any of the symptoms – obesity, acne, excess facial hair, difficulty in getting pregnant, it would worth your while to talk to your OB-GYN about it. Make sure you are armed with as much knowledge as possible about your body when you embark on the journey to completing your family.