By Amy Medling, founder of PCOS Diva
If you have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), you have likely been told that you may not get pregnant or that you will have trouble getting pregnant. That is just not true. Most women can conceive with PCOS. It may take a bit longer and involve some lifestyle changes. Sometimes it may require some intervention but know that there is a high probability that you will have a successful pregnancy if you focus on increasing your fertility. Begin by making lifestyle changes. Reducing stress and eating a nutrient rich, anti-inflammatory and blood sugar balancing diet go a long way to increasing fertility for women with PCOS. Taking control of your hormones and understanding they signs and needs of your body is the key.
Before your try to conceive (TTC) with PCOS, take these 5 steps to increase your chances of getting pregnant, maintaining pregnancy, and giving birth to a healthy baby with a healthy mom.
1. Know your cycle.
Do you know when or if you have ovulated? It is important to know when you are fertile so that you can improve your chances of getting pregnant. Since it can be difficult for women with PCOS to get accurate readings with ovulation predictor kits, understanding your cycle through a fertility awareness method is critical if you are TTC. There are many methods and devices on the market to help track cycles. Not all trackers are created equal, however. Many women with PCOS have a continually rising progesterone curve that makes predicting ovulation particularly challenging. I like the OvuSense fertility monitor because it measures “core body” temperature inside the vagina over an extended period of time. In clinical trials, OvuSense has been shown to be as accurate as ultrasound for detecting ovulation. In fact, the device can predict your ovulation up to 24 hours in advance using current cycle data, confirm the exact date of ovulation, and monitor your individual pattern from cycle to cycle – meaning it works even if you have irregular ovulation as a result of PCOS or other issues. Moreover, you can share the data you collect with your doctor, so they too can have a clear picture of your cycle and may offer additional insight.
2. Shift from being infertility focused to fertility focused.
I am not talking about the well-meaning advice you probably get to “just relax and you’ll get pregnant.” I am talking about mindfully upgrading the way you think about everything. Slowly change your mindset from focusing on infertility and challenges to focusing on your fertility and steps you can take to increase it and conceive with PCOS. There is power in releasing fear, grief, and jealousy beyond mental health. The mind-body link is strong, and it is important to nurture it with positivity and a mindset of self-determination. For many, this is the most difficult step. For tips about how to upgrade your mindset, listen to my podcast with Aimee Raupp.
3. Detox 6 months before TTC.
It takes 3 months for an egg to mature before ovulation. Since it takes time to improve egg quality, give yourself time to reduce your exposure to toxins in your environment, food, cleaning, or beauty products. You might also consider doing a gentle detox like my Sparkle Cleanse Program which helps your body eliminate toxins and teaches you how to reduce endocrine disruptors in your life. A 2009 study by the Environmental Working Group identified 232 different industrial compounds and pollutants in the cord blood of 10 infants. Pregnancy and lactation are not the time to detox. If you don’t reduce your body burden of toxins before your try to conceive with PCOS, your baby will be more vulnerable during both pregnancy and lactation.
4. Reduce Insulin Levels.
Metabolic issues can affect egg quality, implantation, and placental development. There is also a higher risk of pregnancy loss in women who have metabolic issues like insulin resistance and increased risk of gestational diabetes. It is important to take the time to increase your insulin sensitivity months before you get pregnant. Changing your diet, exercise, prioritizing sleep, and managing stress will all help. If you have PCOS, start here.
5. Have a complete thyroid panel.
Many women with PCOS have hypothyroidism and they don’t even know it. Pregnant women with untreated thyroid issues can get high blood pressure, anemia (low red blood cell count), and muscle pain and weakness. There is also an increased risk of miscarriage, premature birth (before 37 weeks of pregnancy), or even stillbirth. Download my PCOS Labs Guide and insist that your doctor order a complete thyroid panel, not just TSH.
Don’t count out dad! Your partner’s health is an important piece of the fertility puzzle. For more about your partner’s contribution before, during, and after, listen to my podcast (or read the transcript) with Bridgit Danner.
Women can conceive with PCOS and have healthy babies! There is hope. Join the PCOS Diva community for reliable information and support as you begin your journey.
Amy Medling, best-selling author of Healing PCOS and certified health coach, specializes in working with women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), who are frustrated and have lost all hope when the only solution their doctors offer is to lose weight, take a pill, and live with their symptoms. In response, Amy founded PCOS Diva and developed a proven protocol of supplements, diet, and lifestyle programs that offer women tools to help gain control of their PCOS and regain their fertility, femininity, health, and happiness.