Does PCOS Affect a Woman’s Ability to Conceive?

September 23, 2011

in All Things Fertility,PCOS Information And Stories

Many women struggle for months trying to become pregnant, not understanding why those frustrating pregnancy tests just don’t give them the results they’ve been hoping for. You may be doing everything right as far as the books and magazines have told you, but if you have PCOS and the condition isn’t under control, it is very possible that the disorder is preventing you from achieving that pregnancy you’ve been hoping for so desperately. Exactly how does PCOS affect a woman’s fertility and what can you do about it? Fortunately, there is some very good news…

What is PCOS?

PCOS, also known as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, is a hormone-related medical condition that can have an impact on your hormone levels, menstrual cycles, fertility and even your physical appearance. While the exact causes of PCOS are still unclear, researchers are starting to think that it has to do with the body’s production of too much insulin, which results in the over-production of androgens or male hormones. These male hormones lead to the frustrating side effects that women with PCOS experience.

How Does PCOS Affect Fertility?

If you’re living with PCOS, the excessive male hormones that your body is creating can interfere with the production of the female hormones that your body needs in order to ovulate. Because your body is not ovulating, progesterone (the hormone that causes the lining of the uterus to thicken) is not being produced. This results in an absence of periods or irregular menstruation. When there is a lack of ovulation and menstruation, conception just isn’t possible.

Can Anything Be Done to Help?

Fortunately, PCOS does not have to stop you from conceiving a child. While untreated PCOS will definitely have an impact on your ability to become pregnant, there are steps you can take to help your body conceive.

First and foremost, weight loss can help you improve your hormone imbalances, resulting in your menstrual cycle returning to normal. Research has shown that as little as a five percent reduction in weight can have a significant impact on your body’s ability to conceive.

Metformin, a prescription drug that helps your body’s sensitivity to insulin, may also be able to help you conceive. Because high insulin levels lead to high levels of male hormones, Metformin can reduce the level of male hormones that are running through your body and interfering with your ability to become pregnant.

While some women do need to resort to fertility drugs, not everyone does. Fertility drugs should not be your first choice when trying to conceive with PCOS. However, if all of the above approaches do not work, medications like Clomid can help you achieve fertility by blocking the estrogen receptors in the brain.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is this… Yes, PCOS can make it more difficult to have a baby, but it does not have to stop you from becoming a mother. You just need to understand how the condition is interfering with your ability to conceive and take measures to control the disorder. Once your PCOS is under control, becoming pregnant becomes a very real possibility.

Circle + Bloom offers audio mind+body programs to help women with PCOS. One program for when you are not trying to conceive (PCOS for Health) and another program for when you are (PCOS for Fertility).

Please always consult your Doctor for how any information you read relates to you personally, including the information on this site and included in this post.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Andrea May 8, 2013 at 3:56 am

I’m 14 years old and I believe that I’m experiencing PCOS. I’m very concerned because I learned that this condition can lead to heart diseases and diabetes. But not only that. It can also interfere with fertility. Every grown woman wishes to become a mother. Although I’m only 14 years old, I plan to become a mother when I’m older. But with this condition, it would be quite difficult. Please help me overcome this experience. I would really appreciate it.

Joanne May 8, 2013 at 9:52 am

Hi Andrea: The first thing you should do is to ask your doctor about your question regarding PCOS. They may be able to diagnosis you fairly quickly, or they might do an ultrasound on your ovaries (ultrasounds don’t hurt – they are non-invasive and just “peek” inside). Yes it is true that PCOS could cause these other conditions, but the biggest factor to that would be weight and staying in a healthy range.

I was diagnosed as a teenager as well, and worried that I would have trouble getting pregnant. My periods were very long and irregular. But having PCOS doesn’t mean you are infertile, it just means that you may have to take a few extra steps when you are ready to have a baby.

Try not to worry about all of these scary things that might happen in the future – just try to stay healthy and eat lots of fruits and vegetables. You can also try our PCOS for Health program – which would allow you to use your inner healing ability to help reverse the conditions – that is also an option.

Stay positive Andrea and being someone who walked in your shoes, I can say these words confidently!

All the best, Joanne

angie June 6, 2013 at 9:44 pm

umm yes pcos can mess you up for good on having baby’s Im 35 years old I lost weight been on every diet you can think of fertility med’s etc don’t tell me about weight lose blah blah blah my obyg doctor nurse is the one that messed me up and I almost got a divorce from my husband been married for him 12 years I refuse to sleep with him I had hsg done my doctors nurse gave me an abortion at 2 week’s and to top it off my left tube blocked you know how that feel’s i was upset for a whole year i refuse to go to doctor’s now my period’s were normal it skipped 2 month’s every time I have hope praying day in an day out pregnancy test be positive a comes out negative I wish it was easy as you say its not so ive learned to accept im a looser and cant get pregnant at all dont tell me you can it wont never happen all my life i was put down and called names etc etc if you tried every fertility med etc and herbs and it fails I think its time to come to the reality it wasnt meant for me to be a mother its ok for my cousins has babys by diffrent men and they abuse them and say they wish they never had them for 12 years i struggled to get pregnant what do i get nothing I wish you all luck on concieving I had a bad expirence and still have it i never wanted to giv up but im too old now 35 years old enough enough doctors in USA are joke’s anyway especially in wva

sarah August 17, 2013 at 9:45 pm

I’m 20 years old and in a about a month I will be 21. I recently was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome and and to be honest I thought my irregular long menstrual periods was from my previous choice of birth control. Needless to say I was dealing with the constant period for over a year. When they did the pelvic ultrasound both internal and external my doctor called me with my results and gave me this scary news. I have changed my birth control to the pill now and my problem is that I am already a very small female. I’m five foot seven and I weigh 117.3lbs so loosing 5% of my body fat is not in my best interest. Once I finish college I was hoping to start the process of having a child at 25 years old and im very worried because I was told that I produce a high amount of male hormones not just a little than I should and I am against pills. The only reason why I am the birth control pills is because my previous choice of birth control was not helping me at all. I’m scared and worried more about the pregnancy than the heart disease and diabetes.

vicky November 23, 2013 at 7:42 am

I have pcos and my period comes excessively I can stay up to 6 weeks on period what do I do

Dee December 9, 2013 at 10:00 pm

I was 11 years old when i first started my period, I was 12 years old when I was told by my gyno that I had PCOS I was put on birth control and took it for years, I finally decided to stop taking it for some reason or another, not to get pregnant. Anyways I struggled for years with weight gain even as a year around athlete, and irregular period. Sometimes for 9-10 months with nothing. Then boom all of the sudden I would have a period for weeks. I have been married for 5 years we only used protection for 6 months at the beginning of our marriage and we still have not conceived. About 7 months ago I changed Dr.s and she encouraged me to of course loose weight and eat better to start taking prenatal’s a folic acid. Since then I have lost 23 lbs and have had regular period. I don’t bleed as long maybe 6-7 days and it not very heavy and I don’t have the pain I used to have. also my hormone levels have change. My estrogen levels are up and testosterone is way down. My husband and I are going to start trying to conceive this coming February, with no form of fertility drugs. I am very optimistic for the first time in years. Don’t loose hope Andrea you are so Yong the best advice I can offer you is to talk with your Dr. And ask lots of questions. Hope life treats you well. Dee.

Madhu February 13, 2014 at 3:51 am

Hi..
I am 28 yrs old. I just planned to have a baby in mind and i visited to a doctor for full check up and found i have a PCOS. then i stopped myself for pregnancy. now i am taking treatment. whta will you suggest me it can create a problem to my conceived baby also after taking medicines and treatments.

Emma February 14, 2014 at 5:15 am

I am 20 years old and at 19 I was told I have PCOS and that I may never be able to have children. I had previously suffered with irregular periods, when I had the depo injection I bled every day for eight months, I also tried the contreceptive implant twice the first time was prior to the dep injection and I also bled everyday for 16 months and then tried it again after the injection for six months and bled everyday, that’s when I decided enough eas enough and had it removed and whilst having it removed one of the doc’s asked me why and when I told her, she was shocked saying that what I was experiencing was not normal, a month later she had referred me for an ultrasound scan and I found I had ovarian cysts on my left ovary. Following an operation to remove the cysts I was then diagnosed with Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome on my left ovary, my right ovary was fine. Then at twenty in January this year I fell pregnant, and after being told I may never concieve it was a huge shock and what I learned next shocked me even more, it was actually my left ovary my polycystic ovary that ovulated, so with that, I feel like it gives many of us women hope. I am 7 weeks pregnant, and although I may be at higher risks of complications during pregnancy the doc’s are giving me more scans than usual pregnancy’s and hopefully all will go well

Sukanya April 4, 2014 at 10:15 pm

Hi, I am 32 years old. I am having PCOS, taking medicines ovacare A+B as prescribed by my doctor. I ovulate on D19-D21 every month. I have been trying to conceive for the last 8 months. I have also done the Fallopian tube test and my both the tubes are nicely open. Please suggest what can be hindering me to conceive.

Joanne April 7, 2014 at 10:10 am

Hi Sukanya,

The first step is to discuss your concerns with your doctor (which it sounds like you have already started to do). Stress can definitely play a part in hindering conception, so finding ways to relax and and connect with your body each and every day is important.

Jossy November 3, 2014 at 8:19 pm

Hello,
I’m a 15 year old girl and i have been diagnosed with PCOS.
I suffer really badly with long and heavy periods and usually miss a few days of school because of it. I was getting really tired as well and showing mostly all symptoms to PCOS. At only 15 I know it’s young to be thinking about starting a family but I’m really worried about it and in the future I definitely want to become a mother. I know I may be worrying too much but the thought of it is scary. I’m currently on a diet and exercising more to lose some weight and hopefully that will help the situation, but I have experienced all symptoms (weight gain, oily skin, spots/acne etc but I haven’t really experienced hair growth anywhere it shouldn’t be. If anyone has any advice on how to manage it etc i would really appreciate it.

Joanne November 4, 2014 at 4:07 pm

Hi there Jossy… and thank you for writing to us. The first thing I would suggest for you, especially given your age, is to talk with a doctor about what is going on. I’m not sure by your post if you have been officially diagnosed with PCOS or not, so you will definitely want to have someone confirm that first. There are different ways that PCOS shows itself through different kinds of symptoms, so it’s hard for me to judge.

The one thing I will tell you is that I was diagnosed with PCOS as a teen, and the potential problem in conceiving stayed with me until I had children. PCOS does not mean you can’t have children…but, it does add complications.

Please let us know how you make out with everything Jossy!

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