How to Get Pregnant with PCOS

Eloise Edington  |   22 Nov 2021

If you’re worried about how PCOS affects fertility and wondering “how can I get pregnant with PCOS?” you’re not alone!  Around one in 10 women of child-bearing age suffer from PCOS and many will be thinking about the impact of PCOS on fertility. 

To connect and share experiences with others affected by this condition, download our free Fertility Squad app.

Women with PCOS may experience more difficulty getting pregnant than those without this condition, however many are able to conceive with the right approach.

Here, registered Nutritionist, PCOS & Fertility Expert, Kirsten Oddy, shares her advice on effective methods for getting pregnant with PCOS naturally.

How does PCOS affect fertility?

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is the most common hormonal disorder in women of reproductive age and one of the leading causes of infertility.

PCOS causes a woman’s body to produce higher-than-normal levels of androgens, such as testosterone, and it is these high levels of androgens – combined with other hormonal and metabolic factors – that can affect ovulation and result in irregular or missing periods.

For some women, the only symptom they’ll experience is these irregular periods, but for many it can manifest as excessive hair growth and acne, weight gain and/or changes in mood and also fatigue.

In fact, many women do not find out they have PCOS until they start trying to conceive, particularly if they were using hormonal contraception, such as the oral contraceptive pill, which can mask symptoms of irregular or missing periods.

Additionally, egg quality can be affected by PCOS, so even if a woman ovulates, she may still have a hard time conceiving.

What treatment can help when conceiving with PCOS?

There are a number of different treatments that help with conceiving with PCOS and if you’re working with a fertility consultant or undergoing fertility treatment you may be recommended one of the following: 

  • Clomiphene Citrate, commonly known as Clomid in the UK
  • Metformin
  • A combination of the above – or other medicines

While medication can be helpful in the short term to help you achieve your goals, there is no cure for PCOS. One of the best ways to manage PCOS is through long term, sustainable changes to your diet and lifestyle – either alone or alongside medication.

How can I get pregnant naturally with PCOS?

Since ovulation is required to achieve a pregnancy (and we know that high androgens and insulin can interfere with this) it’s important to regulate these hormones through your diet, lifestyle and supplementation.

Ditch the birth control

It may sound obvious, but the first step is to establish a regular menstrual cycle with no use of hormonal contraceptives.

I recommend my clients to consider speaking with their GP and stopping any hormonal birth control at least 6-12 months before they start trying to conceive.

This allows for a greater window to prepare the body for conception, increase egg quality, and to factor in any further considerations that may arise.

Optimise your diet and lifestyle

Approximately 80% of women with PCOS will have insulin resistance and this is not just a symptom of PCOS but also a major driver of the condition, therefore an important consideration, particularly when trying to get pregnant.

Luckily, one of the best ways to control your insulin is by balancing your blood sugars through your diet. 

My top tips to get you started are:

  • Eat a protein- and fat-rich breakfast within 1 hour of waking
  • For every meal and snack, always pair your starches with protein and/or fat and fibre 
  • Take a brisk 10-30 minute walk after lunch and/or dinner

Two key principles to remember are:

  • Aim for half your plate to be full of colourful vegetables and leafy greens at every meal
  • Eat 2-3 portions of omega rich, oily fish per week – choose from salmon, mackerel, sardines, anchovies or herring

An anti-inflammatory diet should also have an important place when optimising your diet with PCOS. 

Also by Kirsten: Discover natural strategies to manage your PCOS here.

Targeted supplements

There are many supplements that can support PCOS when you are trying to conceive. 

A good quality prenatal is always the best place to start, as this will ensure you have adequate levels of important nutrients needed to support a healthy pregnancy. 

Depending on your symptoms, you also may consider some of the following nutrients (these should be individualised for each person):

  • Magnesium
  • B6
  • Zinc
  • Cinnamon
  • Inositol

Related: Kirsten’s advice about inositol and its benefits for PCOS and fertility can be read here.

Further considerations when trying to conceive with PCOS

The risk for pregnancy loss in women with PCOS is about three times higher when compared to women without PCOS.  Women with PCOS are also at an increased risk for developing certain pregnancy complications such as gestational diabetes, pre-term delivery, and pre-eclampsia. 

There are no definitive reasons for this, however studies show this could be attributed to those hormonal and metabolic imbalances common in women with PCOS.

It’s important to remember that PCOS is not your fault. While PCOS is associated with infertility and these increased risks, PCOS symptoms can be reversed and many women can achieve successful and healthy pregnancies and deliveries when taking a proactive approach.

For further support:

Kirsten offers a dynamic approach when working with her clients on their PCOS and fertility journeys, combining personalised nutrition with fertility awareness, body image coaching and women’s health education. With a personal history of PCOS herself, Kirsten is passionate about educating and empowering women to become masters of their PCOS and experts of their own body.

As a Fertility Help Hub reader you receive a 10% discount off personalised consultations and coaching packages with Kirsten.

Schedule a complimentary discovery call with Kirsten here.

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