“I have PCOS and I want to get pregnant. What do I need to know?”
For many PCOS Cysters, the ability to get pregnant is a primary concern. Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) have a higher level of ‘male’ hormones (also known as androgens) that interfere with the growth and release of eggs from the ovaries (ovulation).
Polycystic ovaries contain a large number of harmless follicles that are up to 8mm (0.3 in) in size. The follicles are undeveloped sacs where eggs develop. In women with PCOS, these sacs are often unable to release an egg, which prevents ovulation. If you can’t ovulate, you can’t get pregnant. Naturally, this can cause a great deal of stress and upset if you’re trying to conceive and even if you’re not trying to conceive.
Although PCOS Cysters may struggle to conceive, having Polycystic Ovary Syndrome does not mean you can’t get pregnant. In fact, PCOS is one of the most treatable causes of infertility in women.
As for any woman, the best way to increase fertility and give your baby the best start in life is to adopt a healthy lifestyle. International, evidence-based guidelines for assessing and managing PCOS show that weight management, sleep, exercise, diet, limiting alcohol, and stopping smoking are the key factors in improving the likelihood of pregnancy.
Let’s break them down, shall we?
Please note that this blog post is not a substitute for official medical advice. If you are concerned about your fertility, suspect you have an underlying health condition, or wish to make dietary/lifestyle changes, please consult your doctor first.
How to Increase Ovulation with PCOS
Modest Weight Loss
Weight gain is a common effect of PCOS. The condition can trigger insulin resistance, which causes the pancreas to overcompensate and produce more of the hormone. That extra insulin promotes fat storage and increases hunger, which can lead to weight gain. Many women with PCOS are overweight or obese, which can exacerbate PCOS symptoms, affect the regularity of the menstrual cycle, and prevent ovulation.
Rapid weight loss isn’t the aim of the game here; that comes with its own health and fertility risks. Instead, aim for incremental weight loss to ease your symptoms and increase your likelihood of getting pregnant. A combination of diet and exercise can help you lose weight at a healthy rate.
Over the long term, it’s smart to aim for losing 1 to 2 pounds a week. This way, the weight is more likely to stay off.
Remember, different weight loss approaches will be successful for different people, so it’s important to follow one that’s feasible and sustainable for you. Check out our weight loss resources, designed especially for PCOS Cysters here.
Easier said than done, I know. But stress is a silent saboteur that can wreak havoc on your body and mind. Studies suggest that there are links between women’s daily stress levels and a lowered chance of pregnancy.
Stress can trigger unhealthy behaviors such as over and under-sleeping, excessive alcohol consumption, smoking, and overeating. It can also irregulate or halt the menstrual cycle. All of these factors can impact your fertility and ability to conceive, not to mention your overall health!
Make sure you’re taking care of yourself by aiming for 8 hours of sleep a night, exercising regularly, and eating nutritious foods. Ideally, you should phase out smoking and alcohol before attempting to conceive as they both have a significant impact on fertility and conception. Needless to say, smoking and alcohol consumption are huge no-nos once you’re pregnant!
We can’t banish stress for good, but we can control our reaction to it. Slow, weighted workouts or going on a walk are failsafe stress-busting techniques, as well as breathing exercises, meditation, and yoga. Try to incorporate these into your daily routine – 20 minutes a day will suffice!
Being active and spending less time sedentary can help with getting pregnant and reduce the risk of ovulation problems. There’s evidence-based research showing that women who do regular, moderate exercise get pregnant quicker than those who don’t.
You don’t have to follow an elaborate exercise routine or join a gym. Effective exercise raises your heart rate, makes you breathe faster, and makes you feel warmer. You should be able to talk comfortably without gasping for breath.
Walking briskly is a perfect example of moderate exercise, as well as slow, weighted workouts. Lifting weights helps you build muscle, which can keep your metabolism moving even after your workout.
Eating a Blood-Sugar-Friendly Diet
To give yourself the best chance of pregnancy, you’ve got to fuel your body with the good stuff. Keep an eye on inflammatory foods (which, for many, are foods that contain gluten & dairy) and limit foods and drinks that are high in saturated fats and sugars.
If you can’t resist the cravings, just know that it’s not your fault. 80% of PCOS women struggle with insulin resistance, which is one of the root causes of high androgens leading to infertility. Ovasitol (15% OFF prc code 292660) is the most researched supplement for PCOS. It’s made from vitamin B8 and has been shown to improve egg quality and ovulation.
It comes in a 3 month supply because that’s how long it takes for an egg to mature and ovulate, and within those three months, the supplement helps you create a blood-sugar-friendly environment that’s crucial for ovulation. Many women with PCOS who struggle with insulin resistance continue taking it after 3 months until they feel that their cravings and insulin sensitivity are under control.
PCOS Cysters should discover their carb tolerance, as this helps you maintain a healthy weight, reduce insulin levels, and encourage fat loss while aiding menstrual regularity.
Leafy greens, lean meats, fish, fruit and vegetables, and beans and legumes are all nutrient-rich foods that are beneficial when you’re trying to get pregnant.
Get Enough Sleep
Sleep deprivation can cause all kinds of issues, but it may also affect your fertility and PCOS symptoms. Some studies suggest that women who suffer from getting quality sleep are more likely to struggle with fertility than their snoozing cysters.
An irregular sleep pattern disrupts your circadian rhythm, which could have knock-on effects on your menstrual cycle. What’s more, sleep deprivation can throw your hormones out of kilter, such as the follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). As PCOS is caused by an imbalance of reproductive hormones, it’s important to regulate hormone levels wherever possible.
Aim for the recommended 8 hours of sleep per night. If you struggle with drifting off, try the following:
- Yoga in the evening.
- Going on a walk during sunset (the colors of the sunset help boost melatonin)
- Turn off your phone/laptop at least an hour before you get ready for bed to avoid excess stimulation.
- Have a warm bath with aromatherapy oil.
- Drink herbal tea like chamomile or spearmint.
- Read in bed rather than scrolling through your phone.
- Consider taking a melatonin and/or CBD supplement.
Explore Treatment Options
If lifestyle changes aren’t moving things along and you need additional support, look for a naturopathic doctor who has studied functional medicine. They can help you do a deep dive into your blood work, make specific supplement recommendations and help you investigate your health.