A PCOS diagnosis can be a confusing and upsetting thing. One of the few things that many people know about Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is that it can make it very difficult to get pregnant. In some cases this received wisdom transmutes into the more dramatic claim that PCOS makes pregnancy impossible: in effect that it is the same as infertility.
This means that if you want to start a family, or don’t want to use IVF, a diagnosis of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome can be a very challenging thing to receive.
Fortunately, it is indeed possible to get pregnant naturally when you have PCOS, and today we’re here to help explain some of the basics.
How Does PCOS Operate?
PCOS is an endocrine condition – this means it affects your hormones, the chemical messengers which regulate almost every process in your body from growth to mood to digestion. This means PCOS has everything it needs to disrupt your menstrual cycle: under Polycystic Ovary Syndrome ovulation is delayed, skipped and unpredictable.
This is caused by an excess of androgens: male sex hormones. These are needed in small quantities in a woman’s body and actually secreted in the ovaries themselves, but with PCOS your body produces a much higher level and this disrupts how your ovaries mature eggs, leading to fewer chances for you to conceive.
Getting Pregnant With PCOS
The key question you need to answer is ‘Do you ovulate with PCOS?’
If you don’t ovulate, you simply don’t have any opportunities to get pregnant, so it’s important to answer this question. Fortunately, it’s only in the most severe cases of PCOS that ovulation is stopped entirely. For most sufferers it simply becomes rarer and less predictable.
Even more fortunately you can encourage your body to restart ovulation or increase the frequency and regularity with which it does so. Your diet can affect your hormones, and while you can’t being down your androgen levels directly, you can reduce the rate at which your body produces insulin. As it’s a high level of insulin that drives all the other symptoms of PCOS, this can reduce the grip the syndrome has on you across the board, as well as boosting your fertility.
Insulin is secreted by your body to help manage the sugar levels in your blood. While your diet is not the only factor affecting how much insulin you produce, you can change what you eat to exert influence on it.
If you stick to a low-GI diet, you will have less sugar entering your bloodstream and it will be broken down more slowly. A slow but steady flow of sugar encourages a slow but steady flow of insulin, reducing the overall level and avoiding big, post-meal insulin peaks that can trigger the other effects of PCOS.