How Does PCOS Affect My Fertility

PCOS can affect many aspects of your health - including your fertility. But why does it happen and what can you do about it?

Posted on June 4, 2022 ·

BY Team Veera

Medically Reviewed

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PCOS is a complex condition and is often accompanied with many notions about its diagnosis, treatment options, and also its long-term complications. Have you been told that PCOS can make the journey of pregnancy – a steep climb? Or that planning your pregnancy early can reverse your PCOS? Well, with widespread misinformation about health conditions like PCOS, the treatment options are often misjudged and this can influence the overall quality of life in women with PCOS.

These misconceptions amongst people thrive because PCOS can become a common cause of infertility if its symptoms are neglected and not treated timely. Let’s look at how PCOS and fertility are linked.

PCOS and its link to fertility

One of your first concerns after getting diagnosed with PCOS is the irregularity of your periods, or even the complete absence of it. It can be stressful to experience this since most women fear infertility as a direct cause of such irregular periods. The irregularity of periods is caused because of imbalances in the hormones, but it can always be treated.

Let’s understand the menstrual cycle and how PCOS affects it. The primary event in your menstrual cycle is ovulation. So, what is ovulation?

In females, a follicle matures in the ovaries. Each month, around the 14th day of your cycle, an egg is released from the ovary and the process is known as ovulation. This is called ovulation, and it governs regularity of periods. But, women with PCOS do not experience ovulation. You conceive successfully if the egg is fertilised because of sexual intercourse.

Because of the hormonal imbalances that you experience in PCOS, it is responsible for preventing ovulation and also affect the levels of hormones that maintain pregnancy.

Without any ovulation, there is no egg released and hence, it results in irregular periods. This is why most women with PCOS struggle to conceive because either there is no ovulation or irregular ovulation.

Fertility treatment options for women with PCOS

There is no cure available for PCOS and the only way to take care of it is to treat its symptoms. When PCOS causes infertility, the treatment usually has methods to regularise ovulation and help you conceive eventually. These medications can also act to regulate periods so that women with PCOS can shed the lining of their uterus and not develop endometriosis. There are a lot of symptoms if you suffer from PCOS, but the most common way to detect your fertility is the frequency of periods and tracking ovulation.

Talking to your doctor can help you understand your PCOS journey more clearly. Losing weight and maintaining it is essential while treating your PCOS. Your diet should be nutritionally rich and lower your blood glucose levels. Exercise and a balanced diet can take care of the weight gain, and keeping a check on your periods can help you understand the likely time that you might be ovulating.

In case these options do not seem to work for you and make it difficult for you to conceive, your doctor might ask you to take some medications such as:

Clomiphene citrate

Clomid or clomiphene citrate stimulates the ovaries to ovulate and doctors prescribe it to you according to your menstrual cycle. It works by blocking oestrogen feedback to the brain and it is taken orally. According to your weight and other severity parameters, your doctor might modulate your doses.

Letrozole

This has become a common medication to treat infertility in women with PCOS. While it is used to treat breast cancer in a different context, but it is known to start ovulation in women with PCOS. It blocks the production of estrogen as well as increase the number of hormones that can stimulate the formation of follicles and ovulation.

Metformin

This is a common medication in the household of people who suffer from diabetes, and it increases the ability of our body to use insulin in a better manner. Because of this, Metformin is not the standard of care treatment for PCOS, but it can be used to induce ovulation and regularise periods. If you are trying to conceive, your doctor may prescribe you with Clomid or Letrozole since they are more effective.

Gonadotropins

These are hormones that can be injected in the blood that can help you ovulate. Your doctor might schedule multiple consultations for this treatment to ascertain that you are responding properly to this method of regularising your periods.

Disclaimer: Content on Veera is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice, or as a substitute for medical advice given by a physician

Verified by Dr. Iris Lee

Fellow in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Lee is a fellow in reproductive endocrinology and infertility at the University of Pennsylvania. She completed medical school and residency training at the University of Pennsylvania as well. Her work focuses primarily on PCOS, particularly the metabolic and mental health implications. Outside of work, she enjoys baking, reading, and spending time with her husband and two puppies.

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