Getting pregnant with polycystic ovary syndrome
Updated: Sep 11, 2021
Polycystic ovary syndrome, aka PCOS, is common among women but not so common with men though, go figure ;) Most women with PCOS can conceive with a combination of lifestyle changes and fertility drugs, while some women with PCOS will also need IVF to get pregnant.
If you have at least 2 of the following features, you may be diagnosed with PCOS:
Polycystic ovaries contain a large number of harmless follicles up to 8mm in size. These follicles are often unable to release an egg, resulting in irregular ovulation. If you're trying to conceive, this makes it tricky to plan some 'How's yer father', horizontal tango, baby making or whatever you call it!
PCOS is a pickle to diagnose and it currently takes the NHS approximately 8 years to diagnose. Estimates say it affects 1 in every 5 women in the UK. You can have the syndrome but no symptons or you can have the syndrome and symptons.
The exact cause of PCOS is unknown but it often runs in families. It's related to abnormal hormone levels in the body, including high levels of insulin, hence weight gain or weight fluctuations being a common sympton.
Whilst there's no cure for PCOS, the symptoms can be managed. The best thing you can do is to lead a balance and healthy lifestyle. Sleep well, eat the right foods, reduce stress and keep your BMI within 18.5 and 24.9. This natural approach is hugely effective and fertility drugs - such as Clomifene aka Clomid, Tamoxifen and Letrozole - can also be prescribed to encourage ovulation.
Letrozole is the most effective drug for inducing ovulation in women with PCOS and the leading fertility experts in the UK will opt for Letrozole in these circumstances. If you're going down the NHS route, be aware that their default ovulation inducing drug is Clomid, which works some women but is less effective at stimulating ovulation than Letrozole is for women with PCOS.
If fertility drugs aren’t effective, a simple surgical procedure called laparoscopic ovarian drilling (LOD) may be recommended…..! Yes, you read that correctly and I didn’t make it up. This process involves using heat or a laser to destroy the tissue in the ovaries that's producing androgens, such as testosterone. This is only something to consider after exhausting all other means if you have severe PCOS. Only use a clinician with significant experience and an excellent track record with this procedure. We’re born with two ovaries so let’s love, nurture and protect them.