Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a metabolic disorder that affects women of reproductive age and is characterized by hormonal imbalances. These hormonal imbalances affect many parts of the body, including the reproductive system.
With reproductive system problems, many Cysters face issues with menstrual cycles and fertility. When a Cyster does become pregnant, unfortunately those pregnancies are much more likely to end in miscarriage and pregnancy loss compared to pregnancies of women without PCOS.
Today, I’m dedicating this post to PCOS and pregnancy loss. I’ll discuss how they could be related and how you can go about reducing miscarriage risk. As always, there is still plenty of hope for a viable pregnancy!
PCOS and Miscarriage
Miscarriage is a sudden pregnancy loss usually within the first 20 weeks. In this post, we’ll also discuss late-term pregnancy loss as well. The rate of miscarriage in women without PCOS is between 10%-15% of pregnancies. But, for Cysters, the miscarriage rate increases to a heartbreaking 30%-50%.
This seems to suggest a link between PCOS and miscarriage. You can learn more about how pregnancy affects PCOS here. Below, I’ll dive more into how PCOS and miscarriage are related!
Does PCOS Cause Miscarriage?
Research suggests polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) increases the risk of miscarriage. However, the exact reason for the heightened risk isn’t super clear. Studies suggest 3 possible associations.
First of all, Cysters struggle with significant hormone imbalances, which are thought to contribute to miscarriages. Additionally, the fact that many women with PCOS struggle with weight gain and insulin resistance could also be a factor. These comorbidities may also be the cause of the higher chance of pregnancy loss. Though this is sad news for many women out there trying to conceive, understand that these risk factors can be reversed! (I’ll get to that next.)
PCOS Miscarriage Rates and Statistics
- A Cyster is 3 times more likely to experience early pregnancy loss than a woman without PCOS. (source)
- 5.4% of PCOS pregnancies end in third-trimester loss, whereas only 3.1% of non-PCOS pregnancies have the same conclusion. (source)
- Maternal age and BMI have a great effect on increasing miscarriage rates over PCOS alone. (source)
- IVF (in-vitro fertilization) and intrauterine insemination (IUI) pregnancies are 2 times more likely to result in miscarriage. (source)
- 40%-80% of women with recurrent miscarriages have PCOS. (source)
- Pregnant women with PCOS are 9 times more likely to develop gestational diabetes than a pregnant woman without PCOS. (source)
How To Avoid Miscarriage With PCOS
Exercise can have many PCOS benefits! First of all, regular exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight. Since a high BMI can significantly increase the risks of miscarriage, pregnancy complications, and gestational diabetes, getting to a healthy weight should be a priority. (Easier said than done, I know. Here’s more on how to lose weight with PCOS.)
Beyond helping you lose weight, exercise can also help you reduce stress, lower blood glucose levels, and balance hormone levels—these all have a positive impact on pregnancy. However, I don’t recommend all kinds of exercises. Here are the workouts I’ve found are most beneficial for PCOS.
Eat the right foods.
A balanced diet is another good way to lose weight, balance hormones, and have a healthier pregnancy. As a nutritionist who specializes in PCOS, I recommend an anti-inflammatory gluten- and dairy-free diet. The diet isn’t just about what not to eat, it’s also about what PCOS-fighting foods you should eat.
When you download The Cysterhood app, you’ll find delicious PCOS-friendly meals and exercise plans that’ll help you lose weight and reverse the effects of PCOS. As your body regulates and gets back to a healthy state, pregnancy viability will hopefully improve as well! Here’s more on how to heal from PCOS using this diet.
Take the right supplements and vitamins.
Even with a well-balanced diet, getting all the nutrients your body needs to thrive is really hard. Nutrient deficiencies can be a big contributor to hormone imbalance, insulin resistance, weight gain, and other symptoms negatively affecting your pregnancy outcomes.
First, talk to your doctor about getting a prenatal vitamin. Then, discuss other supplements like Ovasitol, vitamin D3, magnesium, omega-3, zinc, and CoQ10. Here’s more on my top recommended supplements for PCOS!
Reduce insulin resistance and blood sugar levels.
Insulin resistance is one of the main contributors to weight gain. If you have the insulin-resistant type of PCOS, your body doesn’t process sugar properly. Instead of the glucose being transformed into energy, it’s absorbed. It raises your blood sugar levels and causes weight gain, making getting to a healthy weight really difficult.
Insulin resistance also increases your chance of developing type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes. Both are a concern for pregnancy viability. Luckily, the tips I’ve already mentioned: the right exercise, diet, and supplements can help lower insulin resistance. For more on insulin resistance and PCOS, listen to this episode of my podcast “A Cyster and Her Mister.”
Stress can worsen insulin resistance and hormone imbalances. What a lot of women miss is that they can’t get control of their weight and hormones without first reducing stress. I know it’s hard, but finding ways to relax, invest in yourself, and practice self-care is important for your mental and physical health. This will help with other PCOS symptoms too!
Drinking more than 200 mg of caffeine a day during pregnancy has been linked to pregnancy complications and miscarriage. Plus, caffeine can increase the release of cortisol (AKA stress hormones), cause adrenal fatigue, and worsen insulin resistance, leading to weight gain, fatigue, and anxiety.
You can learn more about caffeine and PCOS here.
Get a good night’s sleep.
Poor sleep can have a significant impact on your mental and physical health. Lack of sleep can cause high blood pressure, hormonal imbalances, stress, insulin resistance, and potentially pregnancy complications. This can be challenging since people with PCOS often struggle with sleep disorders like insomnia and sleep apnea. However, prioritizing getting better sleep can have big benefits for your health, which can help lower your risk of miscarriage.
Though there is an increased risk of miscarriage if you have PCOS, healthy pregnancies are possible!
Becoming a mother is something so many women with PCOS long for. However, infertility and miscarriage stemming from PCOS can make the process emotionally and physically painful. (Here’s more on overcoming miscarriages and infertility.) But, have hope! By taking control of your PCOS, you can help lower your risk of miscarriage and increase your chances of having a successful pregnancy. Learn more about how to reverse your PCOS naturally on the blog and my podcast. Good things are ahead!