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Getting Pregnant with PCOS

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the most common female endocrinopathy, affecting as many as 15% to 18% of women of reproductive age. Having PCOS does not mean that you can never get pregnant but the extra effort and a strict lifestyle and diet would help achieve it. Normally, there are hormonal fluctuations that happen inside a woman’s body, many hormones go up and down throughout the cycle which results in ovulation, meaning the ovaries produce the egg which develops around every cycle.
In PCOS, however, there are abnormal fluctuations that result in anovulation(absence of ovulation), and thus there is no development and release of the egg at the correct time, it is more likely that women won’t conceive in that particular cycle. If you don’t ovulate, you can’t get pregnant. In order to get pregnant it is very important to manage the symptoms and treat the causes.

Following are some ways which can be practiced which will facilitate the conception process:

  • Weight loss: Research has shown that women who are obese and overweight may tend to have decreased estrogen levels than that of the normal BMI. As estrogen is responsible for triggering ovulation, low levels may cause infertility. Weight loss can be achieved through proper diet and exercise.

  • Lowering Insulin resistance: IR is another obesity- related condition that can disrupt the ovulation too. Increased weight can lead to Insulin Resistance. “Abnormally high insulin levels cross-react with Insulin and IGF(Insulin like growth factor) on ovary, leading to androgen overproduction” (Kursad Unluhizarci et al. , World Journal of Diabetes).

  • Decreasing androgen excess : Improving Insulin resistance and enhancing the sensitivity can decrease the testosterone levels thus increasing the chance of ovulation and eventually of getting pregnant.

  • Exercise: It enhances the glucose uptake by muscles, decreases hyperinsulinemia thereby decreasing the testosterone levels and increasing the chances of getting pregnant.

  • Fertility friendly nutrients:
    • Complex carbohydrates like whole grains and Millets are high-fiber low-GI (Glycemic Index) foods which raises the blood sugar slowly and steadily and prevents their spike.‘Millets’ serve an extra advantage as they are low in GI than other cereals and the essential amino acid profile of the millet protein is better than various cereals.

    • Good quality protein and low fat dairy products-As they have an insulinotropic effect which indeed enhances insulin sensitivity and glucose clearance from the blood.

    • Foods rich in antioxidants and flavonoids as they not only reduce oxidative stress and Insulin Resistance in PCOS patients but also improve ovarian environment, reduce androgen levels, and promote follicular maturation.Sources include oranges, papaya, prunes, berries, tomatoes, raisins, plums, etc.

    • Probiotics are living microbial dietary supplements found in dairy products.It is beneficial against inflammatory processes that affect insulin receptor function and androgen biosynthesis.

    • Myo-Inositol is found in the follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) signaling mechanism ,enhances Insulin sensitivity, and inhibits insulin-associated androgen synthesis. Sources include dried prunes, beans, citrus fruits,almonds etc.

    • Vitamin D: Research has shown that it increases the first phase of insulin secretion and also inhibits inflammatory reactions. It also plays a vital role in folliculogenesis by decreasing the elevated anti-mullerian hormone levels.

    • Selenium is an effective essential element against oxidative stress and is required for the embryonic gonadal development and function of reproductive tissues. (Mirone M. et al)

    • Zinc helps support progesterone production. Healthy progesterone levels are essential for becoming pregnant and maintaining a healthy pregnancy.

    • N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC) alters hyperandrogenism, hyperinsulinemia, and menstrual cyclicity in women with PCOS. Sources include Lentils, Oats, yoghurt, lean meat, eggs, sunflower seeds etc.

    • Researches have shown that Omega 3 fatty acid consumption leads to decreased testosterone levels. For this, the concept of Seed Cycling can be practiced.
Seed cycling is the practice of eating certain types of seeds during the two main phases of the menstrual cycle to help promote healthy hormonal balance. It incorporates around 1 tbsp of pumpkin and flax seeds daily in the follicular phase and 1 tbsp of sunflower and sesame seeds daily in the luteal phase.
The seeds should be consumed in raw form, without roasting, sun-drying, or grinding.

Seed cycling balances the two main hormones affecting pregnancy (Progesterone and Estrogen) and as a result, the chances of conceiving naturally are increased.

Some herbs that can help you get pregnant:

  1. Asparagus or Shatavari: It is considered as the female reproductive tonic due to the phytoestrogens present in them which mimics the estrogen and thus causes ovulation in the women with PCOS.

  2. Agnus castus (chasteberry) or Nirgundi balances the reproductive hormones and also regulates the menstrual cycle thus increasing the chances of getting pregnant.

  3. Black Snakeroot or Sarpagandha also aids in improving the fertility in women with PCOS.It stimulates the ovaries and boosts ovulation which further facilitates the conception process.
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In conclusion, discussing PCOS with your doctor can help you better understand your condition and take proactive steps to manage your symptoms. By asking the right questions, you can work with your doctor to develop a treatment plan that works best for you. Remember to be honest and open with your doctor about your symptoms, concerns, and goals. With the right information and support, you can successfully manage your PCOS and live a healthy, fulfilling life.

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Difference between PCOS & PCOD

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