PCOS and fertility – where do we go from here? This condition affects one in ten people with ovaries, and is one of the most common causes of infertility, the NHS says.
But, you absolutely can get pregnant with PCOS, and when it comes to optimizing your fertility, it turns out there’s a lot you can do – at home, starting today.
Here’s your toolkit, created with our go-to experts at Zita West.
Before we get into it, Zita West customers can currently save 20% on individual products and over 22% (22.5%) on support packs. We’re big fans of their PCOS Support Pack for covering all baseline micronutrient requirements in one – more on this later!
PCOS and fertility
Since you’re here, we’re guessing you already know that PCOS is a hormonal disorder. The hormone imbalances that characterize the condition – including elevated levels of androgens (male hormones) and imbalances in oestrogen and progesterone – can often cause you to experience irregular ovulation, making trying to conceive (TTC) tricky. So, getting pregnant with PCOS requires focused steps, tailored to your hormones and fertility profile as well as your family-building goals.
Wondering where to begin? Narrowing down the concrete, practical steps you can take right now to move your TTC journey forward can be one of the most empowering things you can do for yourself. When it comes to PCOS (or endometriosis, or anything else really) self-advocacy and focusing on what you can control to enhance your fertility is a great place to start.
1. Ask about your options
This may sound obvious but pushing for guidance from a fertility specialist is key with PCOS – no matter your age. This will help you gain a deeper understanding of your fertility baseline and the things that might be most relevant for you to keep in mind when TTC.
How regular are your periods? Are you frequently experiencing long cycles? Are your periods absent altogether? It can be helpful to bring a little checklist of these monthly symptoms to your appointment, to kick-start the convo.
Your specialist can then help walk you through your options, and any fertility diagnostic tests that might be relevant. From antral follicle counts to tests for assessing ovarian reserve, these can offer valuable insights into the quality of your eggs, and help you plan next steps.
TRB top tip – head over to this PCOS support resource hub, put together by the experts at team Zita West. It’s jam-packed with resources and tips specific to the PCOS fertility journey, whatever stage you’re at.
2. Understand your focuses
Once you understand your baseline, you’ll be able to hone focus areas for fertility improvement for what’s unique and relevant to you – across lifestyle, diet and mindset.
Whilst the condition is complex and different for everyone, the Zita West team recommends that your goals for enhancing fertility with PCOS should focus on:
- Regulating ovulation
- Nurturing your egg health
- Reducing insulin resistance
- Hormonal balance
Insulin resistance in particular is important to understand because elevated levels of insulin in the bloodstream can lead to hormonal imbalances that exacerbate the symptoms of PCOS, particularly irregular periods.
3. Familiarize yourself with the medications
There are different medications that might be recommended for improving fertility with PCOS.
- Metformin, a medication frequently used for tackling insulin resistance, has the potential to enhance fertility in women with PCOS by regulating ovulation.
- Clomid, sometimes called Clomiphene citrate, is also recommended by physicians to address fertility challenges associated with PCOS. It prompts your body to produce more FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone) which can boost estrogen and ovulation.
Arming yourself with this knowledge can help you feel more in control if your fertility specialist prescribes either of these as part of your treatment plan.
4. Narrow in on nutrition
Following a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains can help boost your fertility with PCOS. This is because they’re specifically low-glycemic and contain micronutrients that can help regulate insulin levels.
Supplements for PCOS and fertility
The team at Zita West know that the right supplements are another powerful way to enhance your fertility. Zita West’s PCOS support pack contains seven key supplements formulated specifically for those with PCOS. Designed to be taken together, they’ll support your hormone health across all key areas, including the following;
- Myo-Inositol – Inositol, specifically myo-inositol, is often suggested for its ability to enhance ovarian function and fertility in those dealing with PCOS.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids – These vital fatty acids are renowned for their anti-inflammatory properties and have the potential to promote hormonal balance in those with PCOS.
- Vitamin D – A deficiency in Vitamin D is frequently seen in women with PCOS, and may have adverse effects on fertility. Supplementing your Vitamin D levels can lead to enhanced metabolic parameters.
- Psyllium Husk – this fantastic superfood is fibre-packed and easy to add to smoothies and breakfast bowls, plus it can really help improve insulin resistance. Read all about this in our founder’s IVF supplements prep checklist
The pack also includes superstar formulas – part of our all-time favourite products round-up – Vital DHA, Vitafem and Vitafem Boost 1, plus Femceive, all carefully factored in to ensure you’re getting comprehensive baseline nutritional support, from premium folate to a best-selling mulitvitamin – while on this journey.
5. Work on weight management and wellness
This is something you’ll see recommended across the board for fertility, but since weight gain is an often difficult-to-manage symptom of PCOS, finding ways to manage it in connection with your general wellbeing is essential.
The NHS suggests that weight loss of just 5% can lead to a significant improvement in PCOS, and research shows that consistent physical exercise can effectively address insulin resistance and alleviate various PCOS symptoms. Further, if it’s something that feels right for you, combining cardiovascular workouts with strength training seems to be particularly beneficial when it comes to boosting your fertility naturally.
And while we’re covering whole-body wellness, we need to talk about stress, mental and emotional health, and your overall mindset too. Studies show that stress-related factors can have a critical impact on PCOS, and as pioneer of the world-famous mind-body-baby fertility approach, Zita West provides multiple expert resources on this crucial aspect.
TRB top tip – catch this all-bases-covered Q&A with Zita herself on bubble-wrapping your mental health, packed with all sorts of tips and pointers, across your fertility and TTC journey.
Whilst PCOS can present fertility challenges, it’s essential to remember that with the right diet and lifestyle changes, combined with treatment when needed, the condition is by no means a hard stop when it comes to fertility.
Team Zita West have got your back. Check out their cutting-edge PCOS resources and information, our go-to PCOS Support Pack, and save over 20% right now (US & UK).