In fact, it is the most common cause of infertility among women in the United States. If you are wondering how to get pregnant with PCOS, you are not alone.
How Does PCOS Affect Fertility?
Polycystic ovarian syndrome often causes anovulation, which means that women do not ovulate. In women without PCOS, a few follicles develop early in the menstrual cycle. One of these develops into a mature follicle that grows to 18 to 28 mm in size before releasing an egg about 14 days into one’s cycle.
When women have PCOS, their ovaries have many small cysts of about 2-9 mm in size. While these contain eggs, they do not mature properly and do not release eggs.
Women with PCOS do not menstruate or ovulate regularly. There is no way of predicting if or when they are ovulating and thus conceiving can be an immense challenge.
In addition, the lack of regular hormonal cycles affects the endometrium of the uterus. A woman may not have endometrium capable of implantation if she does ovulate.
Best Ways to Get Pregnant with PCOS
Figuring out how to get pregnant with PCOS is a challenge, but still possible. There are lifestyle changes as well as several natural and medical treatments that increase fertility.
1. Work Toward a Healthy BMI
Many women are above their ideal BMI, due to hormonal imbalance and insulin resistance. For women who are overweight or obese, losing weight can help improve fertility problems.
Hormonal imbalances and insulin resistance usually worsen as woman gain excessive weight. While losing weight is a challenge, it improve the chances of a successful PCOS pregnancy.
A recent study found that losing just 5% of one’s body weight can lead to increased fertility in women with PCOS. Even if losing weight does not lead to ovulation and conception, it can still help you to respond better to fertility treatments.
2. Adopt a Low Glycemic Load Diet
Not only will a low glycemic load diet help many women with PCOS reduce symptoms, but it can increase the chances of conceiving. A low glycemic load diet lowers insulin levels and can even reduce insulin resistance.
Cutting out refined carbs has been found to have many positive health effects. Not only will it stabilize insulin and blood sugar levels, but it can decrease androgens and lead to more regular menstruation and ovulation. It’s an important component of a diet for women with PCOS.
3. Get Off the Couch
Many of the symptoms of PCOS make it difficult to be active. For example, the pain from ovarian cysts makes you want to curl up with a heating pad, while the fatigue makes your couch look comfier than ever.
However, regular low impact exercise is often one of the best answers for how to get pregnant with PCOS naturally. Not only does exercise lower your insulin resistance, but it also can help you to lose weight.
Exercise is a difficult habit to begin but it getseasier with time, as your stamina builds and your hormone levels improve.
4. Take a Multivitamin
Doctors recommend that women who are trying to conceive take a prenatal vitamin or other high iron, high B vitamin supplement. Not only will this help you to have a healthy pregnancy, but it can increase the chances of pregnancy as well.
B vitamins, especially B3, B6, B9, and B12, help to fight insulin resistance while also increasing progesterone levels and extending the luteal phase of your cycle. In addition, it is important to have healthy levels of all essential nutrients in order to keep your reproductive system in top working order.
5. Eat Your Broccol
Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables have been found in studies to regular a woman’s monthly cycles by normalizing estrogen. High estrogen can interfere with fertility and also cause unpleasant symptoms like PMS.
The reason for this benefit is a phytonutrient called DIM, or diinolylmethane. This important compound is present in all cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, kale, and Brussels sprouts.
DIM may be a solution to how to get pregnant with PCOS. You can also take a DIM supplement; 100-200 mg a day is the suggested dosage for women with PCOS.
6. Up Your Vitamin D
Vitamin D is not just a vitamin, but a prehormone as well. It is activated in cells to form several different endocrine hormones.
Vitamin D is also essential to cell growth, including the growth of eggs in the ovaries. Many women with PCOS have low levels of female hormones along with high levels of male hormones, or androgens, as well as eggs that do not mature correctly. Vitamin D deficiencies are common in women with PCOS and may be partially responsible for infertility.
There are several ways to add vitamin D to your diet. You can eat free-range eggs, high-fat dairy from grass-fed cows, wild-caught fatty fish, or organ meats. If none of these appeal to you, a vitamin D supplement or even a few minutes in bright sunlight should do the trick.
7. Take a Fatty Acid Supplement
Essential fatty acids, especially omega-3 fatty acids, are important to hormonal function. Omega 3 acids increase ovulation, decrease pelvic inflammation, and support healthy hormonal levels.
In addition to helping with getting pregnant, omega-3 fatty acids contain DHA and EPA, which are important to a fetus’s brain development. You can get important fatty acids from fish oil, borage oil, cod liver oil, and flaxseed oil.
8. Keep Magnesium and Chromium Levels High
Magnesium and chromium are both trace elements that are essential to fertility. Unfortunately, many women are deficient in one or both of these nutrients.
Not only are both elements important to healthy cellular function, they actually reduce both pelvic inflammation and insulin resistance. Taking a small supplement of both or eating foods rich in these nutrients can increase the likelihood of pregnancy with PCOS. All women should look into whether they need these trace elements.
9. Learn to Reduce Stress
Many women struggle with stress and anxiety. This is especially true when they are trying to conceive.
Unfortunately, stress can wreak havoc on your hormones, especially when it comes to insulin. Increased cortisol levels can increase insulin resistance, which increases serium insulin and blood glucose.
It is important to learn to deal with stress in a healthy manner, whether this is yoga, journaling, or talking to a counselor. As a bonus, these new coping skills will come in handy when you are finally a parent.
10. Get a Massage
Getting a massage is more than just a relaxing treat. Studies show certain types of massage may also increase your fertility.
One study in 2005 found that women who have PCOS who get a targeted fertility massage are more likely to conceive in IVF cycles. In fact, 71% became pregnant, which is significantly higher than average.
A second study in 2008 found that fallopian tube blockages may actually resolve themselves with a targeted fertility massage. In addition to these benefits, massage also increases blood flow to the pelvic region and reduces scar tissue.
Massage can increase your chances of getting pregnant with PCOS, and it is a nice way to relieve the stress of trying to conceive as well. There is no reason not to make an appointment with a licensed massage therapist.
11. Go Under the Needle
Once considered quackery, acupuncture has gained respect in the modern medical community for having a positive effect on a variety of medical syndromes. PCOS is one of the disorders that responds particularly well to targeted acupuncture from a trained acupuncturist.
Acupuncture increases blood flow to certain regions, which is beneficial in building an endometrial lining that will support implantation. In addition, acupuncture can reduce inflammation in the pelvis, a common struggle for women with ovarian cysts.
Most experts recommend that acupuncture be performed on a regular basis in the three to four months before conception is attempted. Acupuncture causes slow and steady change so several treatments are necessary to get maximum benefit.
12. Take a Daily Baby Aspirin
Baby aspirin is recommended for all women trying to figure out how to get pregnant with PCOS. In addition to increasing your odds of getting pregnant, a baby aspirin a day may decrease the rate of miscarriage.
Baby aspirin thins blood enough to decrease tiny blood clots and increase blood flow to tissues. This is especially beneficial to the uterus, which needs good blood flow to build the thick endometrium needed for implantation.
In addition, baby aspirin increases blood flow to the hypothalamus in the brain, which is responsible for maintaining healthy endocrine and reproductive hormones. Baby aspirin reduces the chances of miscarriage, which are already elevated for women with PCOS.
13. Ask Your Doctor About Clomid
Clomid, also called Serophene or clomiphene citrate, is a medication taken orally that is used to induce ovulation. It can be especially helpful for women who do not have regular menstrual periods or ovulation.
Clomid is started a few days into a menstrual cycle, usually either day 3 or day 5. If a woman does not have periods, doctors often can induce them using a drug called Provera.
Women with PCOS then take one tablet of Clomid per day for five days. This process will be repeated with progressively higher doses of Clomid are used in the next cycles if the woman does not ovulate.
Clomid is often the first medical option for how to get pregnant with PCOS. However, if it does not work, there are other medical treatments that may result in a pregnancy.
14. Try Femara/Letrozole
Femara, or letrozole, is a drug originally used to treat breast cancer. However, it can help women who are struggling to ovulate and conceive.
Femara is an aromatase inhibitor that lowers estrogen, leading to higher levels of FSH. Increased FSH can lead to ovulation in many women.
However, Femara is at times too effective and leads to multiple follicles being stimulated. This is called hyperstimulation and can be very painful while also leading to high order multiple births.
This drug can be especially effective in women who do not respond to Clomid. If you decide to take Femara, your doctor will monitor your ovaries so they can stop the medication if too many follicles are stimulated.
15. Balance Hormones with Metformin
Metformin is taken by many women with PCOS, including those who do not wish to conceive. Metformin is a drug that helps to control diabetes and insulin resistance. However, it also lowers testosterone while encouraging normal menstrual cycles–including ovulation.
Metformin is often used in conjunction with Clomid to induce ovulation. In addition to increasing the chances of ovulation, it also can help with other common symptoms of PCOS.
16. Try Injectable Gonadotropins
Injectable gonadotropins are more invasive than taking a pill and thus are usually the last medication tried to help achieve pregnancy, before moving on to other measures such as IUI and IVF.
Injectable gonadotropins may be an answer to how to get pregnant with PCOS, but they have the highest risk of high order multiples, which are triplets and higher. Because of this, women are monitored several times a week by ultrasound when they are using this medication.
Women who try these drugs usually will have a menstrual cycle induced with Provera, then start giving themselves a daily injection. The dose will be adjusted according to how many follicles seem to be developing.
While this is an expensive option that requires a great deal of monitoring, over 90% of women with PCOS will ovulate using this intervention. Many doctors prefer to use IUI with injectable gonadotropins to increase the chances of conception.
17. Have Ovarian Cysts Surgically Removed
Laparoscopic ovarian drilling, or LOD, is a relatively common procedure used to help women struggling to become pregnant. Women with PCOS have excessive tissue on their ovaries which produces testosterone, and which can sometimes prevent ovulation even when taking Clomid or other fertility drugs.
Removing this tissue can lower testosterone levels long enough to allow natural ovulation. While this is not a long term solution, as more tissue grows back rapidly, it can often be a temporary answer.
In this surgery, a doctor will make a small incision over your lower abdomen and insert a camera called a laparascope. They will then use a needle to destroy the testosterone producing tissue on your ovaries.
This procedure is often less expensive and has fewer side effects than injectable gonadotropins, so it is increasingly becoming popular as a treatment for women who wish to conceive.
18. Check for Blockage of the Fallopian Tubes
Sometimes women cannot conceive because there is a blockage in her ovaries that will not allow an egg to pass. This can be easily identified with simple tests and then resolved with a minor surgery.
PCOS can cause inflammation in the pelvis that leads to scar tissue and adhesions blocking the fallopian tubes. It’s important to look for blockages when trying to figure out how to get pregnant.
19. Try the Latest Technology: In Vitro Maturation
Most women have heard of IVF, or in vitro fertilization. However, in vitro maturation is a new treatment offering hope to women are struggling to conceive.
Women with PCOS have many cysts with immature eggs. Rather than inducing these cysts to mature, a physician removes the follicles and induces maturation in a petri dish. This reduces the chances of ovarian hyperstimulation and also increases the chances of getting a mature egg by midcycle.
The doctor then uses IVF technology to inseminate the mature eggs before implanting them in the patient’s uterus. This is still a very new treatment, which means it can be hard to find a fertility doctor who performs it, but many doctors are claiming success rates of around 80%.
20. Take Control with IUI
Intrauterine insemination, or IUI, is commonly used along with Clomid, Femara, or injectable gonadotropins. Ovulation is induced and carefully tracked; then, the woman is inseminated at the exact right time.
Intrauterine insemination often provides a solution for conceiving with PCOS because it takes luck and chance out of the mix entirely. Every step of conception is carefully timed and controlled, although it is still less invasive than IVF.
21. Consider IVF
IVF, or in vitro fertilization, is the most invasive and expensive means of getting pregnant. Nonetheless, it is effective when many other treatments fail.
In an IVF cycle, ovulation is induced first. The eggs are then harvested and inseminated in a petri dish. When they have developed to eight-celled embryos, they are implanted in the mother’s uterus.
Most women under the age of 40 who have not gotten pregnant by any other means will get pregnant with IVF. If the woman is over the age of 40, donor eggs can be used to increase the odds of conception.
Bonus: 5 Best Supplements to Get Pregnant with PCOS
For women who wish to explore natural remedies, there are several supplements that help improve fertility. Consider one or several of these natural, safe options.
Inositol is a natural component of human cells. However, women with PCOS excrete this B vitamin derivative at a higher rate, which may leave them deficient in this important compound.
Inositol powder supplements have been found to help with a variety of the effects of PCOS, from insulin resistance to high androgen levels. In addition, they also support normal menstrual cycles, ovulation, and at times pregnancy.
You may need to take inositol for several months in order to see major effects, but this supplement has been found to be effective in multiple clinical trials studying how to conceive with PCOS.
Whether you call it chasteberry, chaste tree berry, or vitex, this botanical is one of the most popular supplements for fertility. It balances hormones to allow for healthier monthly cycles.
3. Raspberry Leaf
This popular herbal supplement, usually taken as a tea, is helpful for a variety of female problems. It increases blood flow to reproductive organs, which can help to encourage both ovulation and the development of healthy endometrium, while also increasing uterine tone. Women have been using this herb to get pregnant and have healthy pregnancies for centuries.
You probably know kudzu as a weedy vine, but it is a useful herbal drug as well. Not only does kudzu help to balance hormones, it also can treat insulin resistance. Treating these two common issues often allows ovulation and pregnancy to occur.
5. Red Clover
Red clover is used by many women with fertility problems. In fact, it is prescribed by physicians in the UK and other countries in Europe.
Red clover has high level of isoflavones and phytoestrogens. These appear to stabilize hormonal imbalances enough to sometimes allow ovulation. Many women have been able to get pregnant using this natural remedy.
Can You Get Pregnant With PCOS?
Trying to pregnant with PCOS is extremely challenging. However, there are many ways that doctors can help you and that you can help yourself. Talk to your doctor to see which of these options may help you to achieve the pregnancy you have dreamed of for so long.