So many people ask if they can get pregnant with PCOS. PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) is a common endocrine disorder with metabolic and reproductive consequences. It affects 1 in 10 people with ovaries in the UK. Common symptoms associated with PCOS include acne, oily skin, lack of or irregular periods, lack of ovulation, excessive hair growth, increased testosterone levels, insulin resistance and trouble getting pregnant.
A common misconception when someone receives a diagnosis of PCOS is that you cannot get pregnant. Whilst an understandable concern considering common symptoms are irregular or indeed no menstrual periods, which may lead to difficulty getting pregnant. As the disorder is a combination of symptoms, it will display differently in everyone and therefore does not mean these are symptoms you will have.
Even if you are diagnosed with PCOS and present with these symptoms, finding it harder to conceive than you first may have thought, it does not mean you cannot get pregnant. In fact, by working with a healthcare professional, the majority of individuals with PCOS are able to get pregnant following treatment.
There are a number of treatments available to help regulate your menstrual cycles, ovulation and chances of conception, which will vary depending on you as an individual. Most people find a short course of tablets taken at the beginning of each cycle for several cycles to be successful. However, these are not the only options, and if they are unsuccessful injections or IVF treatment can also be considered.
There are a few medicines considered for individuals with PCOS who are trying to get pregnant. Firstly, a medicine called ‘clomifene’ aka ‘clomid’ may be recommended as it encourages the release of an egg from the ovaries (aka ovulation). If clomifene is unable to encourage ovulation, metformin may also be suggested. Whilst more commonly known for its treatment of type 2 diabetes, it can help to lower insulin and blood sugar levels, as well as stimulating ovulation and regular monthly periods.
Letrozole may also be used to stimulate ovulation as in replacement of clomifene. While both metformin and letrozole are considered ‘off-label’, meaning they haven’t been licenced to treat PCOS, your healthcare professional may still consider them if they believe they may be effective for you. As with all medicine they may have side effects and it’s important to work with your healthcare professionals to make sure you’re comfortable with any recommendations and attend regular check-ups.
For many, the experience of trying to get pregnant with PCOS can be a stressful time. As individuals with PCOS can be sensitive to stress, practising good sleep hygiene e.g. being mindful of caffeine and blue lights (phone, laptop etc.) before bed, as well as stress management e.g. yoga, meditation, journaling etc. is especially important.
However, the bottom line and the biggest takeaway from this article, is that YES if you have PCOS it is possible to get pregnant.