If you have been struggling to get pregnant, you may have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, or PCOS. PCOS is a common hormonal disorder that can make it difficult to conceive. One of the biggest issues with PCOS is that it can cause an irregular cycle, making it much harder to get pregnant. But don’t worry, there is good news! You are probably wondering how to get pregnant fast with PCOS. In this blog post, we will discuss some of the best ways to increase your chances of getting pregnant. We will cover everything from diet and lifestyle changes to fertility treatments, surgical procedures, and supplements. So if you are struggling to conceive and ready to take the next step for that positive pregnancy test, read on for some helpful tips!
This article does not give medical advice. Please remember it is always a good idea to check with your doctor or healthcare provider to learn about if any of these options are right for you.
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What is PCOS?
Learning more about PCOS is the first step in getting closer to your goal of a healthy pregnancy. Polycystic ovarian syndrome (also sometimes known as polycystic ovary syndrome) is a common condition that is one of the leading causes of infertility in women of reproductive age. It is caused by hormonal imbalances that can create irregular periods, excess hair growth, weight gain, fertility problems, extra weight gain, high levels of insulin, high levels of androgens, and other symptoms. It can even put you at a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and things like gestational diabetes during pregnancy.
The exact cause of PCOS is unknown and there is no “cure”. It is something that can affect many areas of your general health and may or may not require medical help. PCOS can make it difficult to get pregnant because it can interfere with ovulation (the release of eggs from the ovaries). If you are not ovulating regularly, or at all, you will have a much harder time getting pregnant. There are effective treatment options available to help manage the symptoms and increase chances of pregnancy.
You can have PCOS and only have a few of the PCOS symptoms listed above or you could have them all. People are affected differently by the disorder. There are also two types of PCOS known as insulin resistant and non-insulin resistant. The most common type is insulin resistant PCOS. Insulin resistance is when the body produces insulin but does not use it properly. This can lead to weight gain and diabetes. Non-insulin resistant PCOS is less common and is not related to weight or insulin levels. You can speak to your doctor or healthcare provider in order to find out more information about which type you are.
Tracking Your Cycles With PCOS
Understanding your menstrual cycle and when you ovulate is key to being able to increase the chances of pregnancy more quickly with PCOS. For women with this common cause of infertility, tracking their cycles can be a little more difficult as they may not have regular periods. It is an important part of women’s health to understand how our bodies work. It is still possible to track your cycles and ovulation by using at-home ovulation tests or fertility monitors. These tools can help you determine when you are most likely to ovulate so that you can plan accordingly.
Basal Body Temperature
Tracking your basal body temperature only requires you to buy a BBT thermometer (available at most stores). You then wake up and take your temperature at the same time each morning before moving around too much or getting out of bed. By tracking your temperature, you can see the trend of before and after ovulation. After ovulation, you have a temperature rise that will then drop again as you start your period. Tracking your temperature for a couple of cycles will tell you a lot of information, including if and when you are ovulating.
Cervical Mucus Method
The method of tracking cervical mucus is the Billings method. You track your cervical mucus changes throughout your cycle to help determine when you are ovulating. When you first start your period, you will have little-to-no cervical mucus. As you approach ovulation, your cervical mucus will become more plentiful, thin, and slippery. This is when you are in your fertile window and have the best chances of conception. You are most likely to get pregnant during this time if you have intercourse.
Ovulation Predictor Kits
You can also use ovulation predictor kits (OPKs) to help track your cycles and ovulation. These kits test the level of luteinizing hormone (LH) in your urine. LH is produced by the pituitary gland and helps to trigger ovulation. When you ovulate, your LH levels will surge about 24-36 hours before the release of an egg. OPKs can help you predict when this surge will occur so that you know the best time to have intercourse. A warning though that OPKs do not always work for women with PCOS due to the irregular cycles and hormone levels that can be off.
Fertility treament is usually performed in the office of a reproductive endocronologist or fertility specialist who specializes in reproductive medicine. These doctors have had extra training in how to help people conceive when they are having difficulty. There are many different types of fertility treatments available and the type that is right for you will depend on many factors including your age, how long you have been trying to get pregnant, your medical history, and whether or not you have any other medical conditions. You can set up a consultation with a specialist in order to find out what treatment options are available to you.
Clomid (clomiphene citrate) and Femara (letrozole) are drugs that can induce ovulation in PCOS patients. The ovulation induction medications work by stimulating the release of eggs from the ovaries. These drugs are usually the first line of treatment for women with PCOS or irregular menstrual cycles who are trying to get pregnant. They are oral medications that you take towards the beginning of your cycle. As all medications do, these can have side effects, so make sure you ask your doctor what to expect.
Other medications may be added in such as injectable medications like a follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) to help the follicles grow big enough to be able to release an egg. Your doctor will likely do blood work and ultrasounds to check on your progress while you are taking these medications. If you are not monitored closely during these medicated cycles, you can be at an increased risk of developing things like ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. This can be dangerous to your health, so make sure you are using a doctor that provides monitoring.
Some reproductive endocronologists or other healthcare providers may have you take birth control pills before starting a medicated cycle. Provera is another medication that can help bring on a period if you are having a long cycle. The medicine is usually taken before starting Clomid or Femara in order to help time everything out.
If fertility drugs alone do not work, you may move on to intrauterine insemination (IUI), which is a form of artificial insemination. Or you may do an IUI cycle in conjuction with the fertility medications listed above. An IUI involves inserting sperm directly into the uterus through a catheter. This helps increase the chances of fertilization because it bypasses the cervix and puts the sperm closer to the egg in the fallopian tubes. This procedure is also helpful when there is a low sperm count. You will likely have to have ultrasounds and blood work done to check how your follicles are growing and when you are ovulating. Many times, you also take a trigger shot that helps the eggs finish maturing and release from the ovary. This helps you have better timing on the IUI making sure it is as close to ovulation as possible.
In vitro fertilization (IVF) is when eggs are retrieved from your ovaries and fertilized with sperm in a lab. The doctor will then implant the embryos back into your uterus. IVF is a good treatment option for women with PCOS because it can help you get pregnant even if you are not ovulating regularly. It is also an option if you have failed other fertility treatments. You will usually start with the medications alone and then increase to IVF if the other treatments do not work. IVF treatment is a lot more costly, so is not usually the first treatment you will receive, unless you have other known fertility issues. One good thing about IVF is you are able to get the embryos genetically tested to make sure there are no chromosomal issues before implanting them. This process, however, can be expensive, and is not always covered by insurance.
Acupuncture is sometimes used either alone or in conjunction with fertility treatments. It is a form of Chinese medicine that has been used for centuries to help with various health conditions. Some studies have shown that acupuncture can improve ovulation and pregnancy rates in women with PCOS. If you choose to go this route, make sure you see an acupuncturist that specializes in treating women for fertility issues.
Ovarian drilling is a medical treatment where a few small holes are made in each ovary with a laser or a thin heated needle. This helps to improve fertility in women with PCOS because it can help jump start ovulation. It also decreases the amount of testosterone that the ovaries produce. The healthcare provider will do the treatment laparoscopically, which is a minimally invasive surgery. It can be done in an outpatient setting and you can usually go home the same day.
Healthy Diet and Regular Exercise
Healthy Diet for PCOS
Eating a balanced diet is an important way to help alleviate the symptoms of PCOS. Many PCOS diets suggest eliminating dairy, sugar, alcohol, and gluten from your diet. There are also recommendations to eat a low-carb diet. This means eating more lean protein, vegetables, and healthy fats. You may not need to completely eliminate all of the above mentioned foods. Do some trial and error to see what works best for your body and what seems to best help your symptoms.
The reason it may be helpful for women with PCOS eat lower carb is due to the insulin sensivity that PCOS causes. Carbs cause your sugar to spike and then crash, which can leave you feeling fatigued. This can also cause your body to produce more insulin, which your body already may have an issue processing. Some carbs are better than others and are lower on the glycemic index. These are usually the better options for a PCOS diet. You can still eat the higher glycemic carbs, but moderation is key.
Do your research on the various versions of the PCOS diet out there to see which one you can best implement. There are a lot of different low carb and dairy free recipes out there for you to try. Eating a balanced diet can help regulate your blood sugar levels, help you reach a healthy weight, and help you live a more healthy lifestyle.
Kym Campbell has a great program that is easy to follow if you are just starting out on a PCOS diet. Read more about it on her page here.
Regular Exercise for PCOS
Physical activity is an important thing for all women, but especially for women with PCOS. It helps to lower insulin levels, reduces inflammation, and can help with weight loss. Many women who have PCOS struggle with their body weight. This is due in part to the insulin resistance that PCOS causes. Exercise helps to increase your insulin sensitivity, which can help you lose excess weight.
There are many different types of exercise you can do. Some women prefer more traditional forms such as running or lifting weights. Others prefer things like yoga or pilates. Choose something that you enjoy and you will be more likely to stick with it. Even better, find a friend or family member to exercise with or sign up for a fun class at the gym. Variety also can make things better, so try out different things until you find what you like and what works best for you.
Sometimes even with diet and exercise, women with PCOS still struggle to lose the weight or only experience a modest weight loss amount. If this is the case for you, try asking if your doctor has any further suggestions. Many overweight women have also been successful with bariatric surgery, but it should not be the first thing you try.
Supplements for PCOS
There are many different supplements out there that can help with PCOS. Talk to your doctor about what might be best for you and how to incorporate them into your daily routine. Taking care of yourself is important and these supplements can possibly help you manage some of the PCOS symptoms you are dealing with.
Ovasitol is a popular supplement for women with PCOS. It is a powdered substance you can mix into your water and drink. It is a combination of myo-inositol and d-chiro-inositol. Ovasitol has been shown to help with insulin resistance, ovulation, and egg quality. It acts in a similiar manner to Metformin and can help with regular ovulation.
Vitamin D is an important supplement for all women, but especially for women with PCOS. This vitamin helps to regulate insulin levels and can help with weight loss. It also has anti-inflammatory properties, which can help with some of the symptoms of PCOS such as acne. The doctor can check your vitamin D levels with a simple blood test.
Folic acid is important for all women of childbearing age, but especially for women with PCOS. The importance of folic acid is to help prevent birth defects of the brain and spine. The current recommendation is for all women trying to get pregnant to take a daily supplement of 400 micrograms of folic acid. This is in addition to eating foods that are rich in folic acid such as leafy green vegetables, legumes, and fortified cereals.
N-Acetyl-Cysteine is another supplement that may have benefits for women with PCOS. NAC is an antioxidant and can help with insulin resistance, inflammation, and healthy egg quality. It also can possibly help reduce the risk of miscarriage. NAC is usually available in capsule form and can be taken once or twice daily.
There are many different ways to help manage PCOS. Talk to your doctor about what might be best for you and how to incorporate these lifestyle and medical changes into your daily routine. Making small changes can have a big impact on your overall health. PCOS is a complex disorder and there is no one “cure”. However, by working with your doctor and making positive lifestyle changes, you can help manage your PCOS and reach your goal of getting pregnant quickly.
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