It’s true that PCOS and pregnancy aren’t exactly the best of friends. But it’s not impossible. Let’s explore how to get pregnant with PCOS.
As a condition that affects how often you ovulate, it can make it more of a challenge for sperm and egg to have that magical meeting.
But getting pregnant with PCOS is by no means impossible – quite the opposite, in fact.
A small word of warning: if you’re after a tell-all guide on exactly how to cure PCOS naturally and get pregnant, we’re sorry to say that such a guide doesn’t exist.
What works for one mama may not work for you, and vice versa.
After all, there is no such thing as one-size-fits-all.
So we reached out to embryologist and fertility expert, Navya Muralidhar, for tips on how to get pregnant with PCOS and things to try to increase your chances of getting pregnant with PCOS.
In this article: 📝
- What is PCOS?
- Is it hard to get pregnant with PCOS?
- Can I get pregnant with PCOS naturally?
- How do I know if I ovulate with PCOS?
- How can I increase my fertility with PCOS?
- Does getting pregnant with PCOS have any risks?
- What are the chances of getting pregnant with PCOS?
- What are PCOS pregnancy symptoms?
- Does PCOS disappear after pregnancy?
What is PCOS?
When you have PCOS, fertility can be a challenge, because your hormones (aka the chemical messengers in your body) are out of balance.
Common symptoms of PCOS include:
- Irregular periods (or a lack of periods, known as amenorrhea)
- Weight gain
- Facial hair or extra hair on other parts of your body
- Hair loss
- Mood swings
- Lots of (harmless) fluid-filled sacs in your ovaries (hence, polycystic ovary syndrome)
Many women aren’t aware of any symptoms and only get diagnosed with PCOS once they start trying for a baby.
Is it hard to get pregnant with PCOS?
Yes, it can be more difficult when trying to conceive with PCOS.
Conceiving with PCOS, however, isn’t impossible, but it does depend on the severity of your PCOS, how long you’ve been trying to conceive, your age, your lifestyle, and your circumstances.
Why is it difficult to conceive with PCOS?
If you have PCOS, TTC (trying to conceive) can be more of a challenge.
Let’s break down why getting pregnant with PCOS is hard.
Ovulation, where your ovaries release an egg, is absolutely key to getting pregnant.
Without that, any friendly sperm that turn up are going to be disappointed.
Usually, ovulation takes place about once a month, but when you have PCOS it might be a lot more unpredictable than that, making getting pregnant with PCOS a tricky subject.
This could be because your hormones aren’t directing your ovaries to release an egg, or because the extra sacs (or cysts) in your ovaries are getting in the way of an egg being sent out.
With ovulation being a bit on the random side, it’s quite hard to schedule sex for that promising meeting between egg and sperm.
Thus, getting pregnant with PCOS can take a little extra work.
How long does it take PCOS to get pregnant?
Well, there’s no cut-and-dry answer to this question, but, even with PCOS, the majority of people trying to conceive usually get pregnant within about a year.
Does PCOS mean poor egg quality?
Does PCOS affect egg quality?
Sometimes, yes, PCOS egg quality is lower than the egg quality of those without PCOS.
But there are some ways you can naturally improve your egg quality, which may help if you’re trying to conceive with PCOS.
How many eggs does a woman with PCOS have?
It might surprise you to learn that people with PCOS tend to have more eggs than those without.
In fact, a study in 2007 determined a “significantly higher oocyte yield in patients with PCOS” (oocytes are immature eggs).
So, while, with PCOS, you may produce more eggs, they are likely to be of poorer quality.
Are we born with PCOS?
To be honest, we don’t know!
Some studies suggest that people are born with PCOS, implying it’s genetic (or luck of the draw), and others put forward that it can be caused by lifestyle choices.
But while there are some things you can do to help alleviate your PCOS symptoms, unfortunately, nothing’s guaranteed here.
Can you have PCOS with regular periods?
When it comes to PCOS, amenorrhea (lack of periods) can be a pretty common symptom.
But not all people with PCOS experience amenorrhea or irregular periods.
It might be that your PCOS doesn’t impact your menstrual cycle and ovulation all that much ‒ as we said, it’s pretty much luck of the draw with PCOS and fertility.
Can I get pregnant with PCOS naturally?
Getting pregnant with PCOS naturally (that is, without medical treatment) is entirely possible.
Depending on which symptoms of PCOS you’re experiencing, you may also be able to make certain lifestyle changes that can boost your chances of conceiving.
For example, PCOS is often (though not always) associated with weight gain, which can make it more difficult for you to get pregnant too.
The good news is that weight loss of just 5% has been shown to significantly improve the symptoms of PCOS.
So, if you think losing weight might help you tackle PCOS and smooth the way to pregnancy, you can chat to your doctor about the best ways to achieve this. A couple of good tips are to:
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet with plenty of fruit and veggies, whole grains, and lean protein. If possible, avoid processed foods that are high in fat or sugar.
- Make time to exercise by walking, jogging, swimming, or taking part in any other fun fitness activities.
Don’t worry – we’re not talking about running marathons here!
One scientific study showed that brisk walking combined with a healthy diet helped women with PCOS improve their menstrual cycle regularity by 50%, increasing their chances of getting pregnant with PCOS naturally.
Small steps can still be really effective.
What is the best position to get pregnant with PCOS?
Okay, we’re here to dispel a common PCOS TTC myth ‒ there are no sex positions that increase your chances of getting pregnant with PCOS.
If you’re comfortable and enjoying it, and it’s penetrative, then that’s the best position to get pregnant with PCOS for you.
How do I know if I ovulate with PCOS?
You might be wondering, I have PCOS with regular periods, am I ovulating?
Well, the answer to that is… maybe!
There are a few ways you can tell if you’re ovulating with PCOS ‒ some key ovulation symptoms to look out for:
- Increase in cervical mucus (discharge).
- Your cervix feels higher and softer.
- You’re feeling more… in the mood.
- You feel something like period cramps, but no period.
- Your breasts feel tender.
- You have a headache and/or nausea.
- You notice some bloating.
Your basal body temperature also raises a little directly after ovulating, which, if you’re tracking it for a few cycles, can help tell you when you think you might be ovulating next, and when is best to be more actively trying to conceive with PCOS.
If your ovulation symptoms are all over the place (which is pretty common with PCOS), then you can always try an ovulation test, although these are less accurate for people who are TTC with PCOS.
If you’re keen to try an ovulation test, check with your doctor about which is best for you.
How can I increase my ovulation with PCOS?
Want to know how to ovulate with PCOS naturally?
Well, there’s no surefire way to ovulate with PCOS, but a healthy lifestyle (exercising and eating nutritious foods) has been proven to help.
But every pregnancy journey is different ‒ and if you’re navigating PCOS, TTC might be a journey that needs a little push, so it’s best to talk it over with your doctor.
Does apple cider vinegar help PCOS?
While it’s being touted as the “next big thing” with PCOS and fertility, drinking diluted apple cider vinegar doesn’t have enough scientific evidence of helping increase your chances of getting pregnant with PCOS.
There is this study in 2013, which seems to suggest that drinking a little apple cider vinegar helps with treating insulin resistance (which can be a symptom of PCOS), helping improve the chances of regular ovulation for people with PCOS.
However, the study was only carried out with seven patients, which isn’t really enough to conclusively say that apple cider vinegar actually helps when trying to conceive with PCOS.
How can I increase my fertility with PCOS?
Want to know how to get pregnant with PCOS quickly?
Well, when it comes to PCOS and fertility, we’re sorry to say that there isn’t really a quick fix.
If these changes aren’t cutting it, or if they’re not relevant for you, there are various ways to get pregnant with PCOS that your doctor may suggest.
Even if you’re looking for how to get pregnant with PCOS and irregular periods, have a chat with your doctor to see which of the following PCOS fertility treatments they recommend.
Let’s take a look at a few PCOS fertility treatment options that can speed you along the road to mamahood.
Clomiphene (Clomid) tablets are usually the first treatment to be tried by aspiring mamas with PCOS.
You take them at the start of your menstrual cycle, usually for several cycles, and they encourage your ovaries to release an egg.
There are also a couple of other oral medications that aren’t technically licensed for treating PCOS, but they can be used “off-label” for this purpose.
Like clomiphene, they work to stimulate ovulation.
These are metformin and letrozole.
Metformin is a treatment for type 2 diabetes, as it helps to balance insulin levels in the body.
Patients with PCOS can have insulin resistance, and metformin works to resolve the same.
(Insulin is a hormone that keeps your blood sugar levels in check.)
As a person with PCOS, you may struggle with your insulin levels anyway, so taking metformin as a fertility treatment could benefit you in multiple ways.
Letrozole is a treatment for breast cancer, normally, but it can also be very effective at getting that all-important egg to the right place at the right time.
If oral medications aren’t working for you, you may be offered an injection of one of a group of drugs called gonadotropins, which include FSH, LH, and hCG.
This is a hormonal treatment that is very good at encouraging your ovaries into action.
One downside is that it can be too effective at stimulating your ovaries, leading to a risk of OHSS (ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome).
Symptoms of OHSS include rapid weight gain, bloating, abdominal pain, and nausea.
Let your healthcare provider know straight away if you experience any of these.
IVF or IVM
When medications alone aren’t effective, the next step is to try a fertility procedure such as IVF or IVM.
IVF (in vitro fertilization) is a procedure where fertility drugs are used to encourage your ovaries to produce some mature eggs, and they are then removed via a technique called “egg retrieval”.
The eggs are placed in Petri dishes with a lab-processed semen sample which contains a higher concentration of motile sperm (your partner’s or a donor’s).
This is so that the sperm can fertilize them.
After the eggs have been fertilized and had a few days to grow, one or two of them are inserted into your uterus.
The hope is that they will then snuggle into the uterine lining and you’ll be on your way to becoming a mama!
PCOS and IVF are less common pairings with our mamas on Peanut, but there are still lots of mamas-to-be trying IVF when trying to conceive with PCOS.
IVM (in vitro maturation) is a similar procedure to IVF.
The main difference is that your eggs will be removed when they’re still immature (so no fertility drugs are needed, or only a low dose) and then matured in the lab, before being fertilized and placed in your uterus.
This is due to the fact that people with PCOS are at an increased risk of OHSS.
To prevent the same, IVM can be done with little to no stimulation.
The immature eggs are retrieved and matured in the lab using maturation media.
For these eggs, a procedure called Intra Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) is often done.
Does getting pregnant with PCOS have any risks?
The plain truth is that, unfortunately, PCOS and pregnancy do come with an increased risk of complications. These include:
- Gestational diabetes
- High blood pressure
- Pregnancy loss
You may also be more likely to need a cesarean delivery (C-section) when you give birth.
Can PCOS affect baby gender?
Does PCOS increase chances of twins?
When trying to conceive with PCOS, your chances of having twins might be increased, but it’s not guaranteed.
There are a couple of reasons for this.
First, since you may be producing more eggs than someone without PCOS, that could mean that multiple eggs could be fertilized at the point of conception ‒ resulting in dizygotic (or fraternal) twins.
Secondly, if you’re using a form of PCOS fertility treatment, that can also increase your chances of being a mama to multiples.
Does PCOS increase risk of birth defects?
Potentially, PCOS may increase the risk of birth differences in your baby, but there’s not enough definitive evidence to support this yet.
According to this study in 2019, while, generally speaking, birth differences are not more common in PCOS pregnancies, the number of “urogenital malformations” (birth differences that affect baby’s reproductive organs) was slightly higher.
Why does PCOS increase risk of miscarriage?
Sadly, PCOS pregnancies do carry an increased risk of pregnancy loss.
While this is proven, there aren’t enough studies yet to accurately show the chances of miscarriage in a PCOS pregnancy.
However, in this small study in 2000 of 1,572 women in New York and Vermont, the rates of pregnancy loss in those with “subfertility” (like PCOS) was 9% higher than those without any known fertility challenges.
What are the chances of getting pregnant with PCOS?
While PCOS pregnancy success rates are difficult to judge because women’s circumstances and treatments vary so widely, it’s clear that most women with PCOS will be able to have a baby if they wish to, particularly with some form of treatment.
For example, medical research has shown that women treated with clomiphene or gonadotrophins have a 70% chance of a successful pregnancy.
So, if you’re trying to get pregnant with PCOS and nothing’s happened yet – don’t worry.
With fertility treatment, or just a little extra time, you’ve got every hope of holding your own baby in your arms one day.
What is the best age to get pregnant with PCOS?
You might have heard that PCOS fertility increases with age, but, sadly, there isn’t enough evidence to support this.
While this small study did show that people who are trying to conceive with PCOS over the age of 40 have a higher implantation rate than those without PCOS, it has been misinterpreted to suggest that PCOS fertility increases with age.
If you’re planning on getting pregnant with PCOS after 30, it certainly is possible, although your chances of getting pregnant will likely start to decrease around this time.
What is the average time to conceive with PCOS?
How long does it take to get pregnant with PCOS?
The average time to conceive PCOS is hard to define, because there aren’t enough studies on PCOS, but most women with PCOS tend to get pregnant within one year of actively TTC.
Can you have a healthy pregnancy with PCOS?
You certainly can!
While there are some risks of getting pregnant with PCOS, they’re not guaranteed.
What are PCOS pregnancy symptoms?
Okay, so when it comes to PCOS and pregnancy, we know things aren’t all that simple.
Knowing you’re pregnant before taking a pregnancy test can be tricky for those without PCOS, but when you add PCOS into the mix… well, the waters get muddied even more.
It might be that your usual PCOS symptoms are actually early pregnancy symptoms, like:
If you think there’s a chance you could be pregnant with PCOS, the best thing to do is wait about two weeks after you had sex, then take a pregnancy test ‒ first thing in the morning ‒ although home pregnancy tests can be inaccurate with PCOS, so it can also be worth double-checking with your doctor.
What is a good pregnancy test for PCOS?
Looking for a good PCOS pregnancy test?
Well, you may be hunting for quite a while ‒ PCOS and pregnancy tests don’t exactly get along.
Because your hormone levels are already high or fluctuating without pregnancy, determining whether you’re actually pregnant with a pregnancy test can be tricky.
A lot of our PCOS mamas on Peanut have said they had a few false positives when it came to PCOS and pregnancy tests.
If you think you might be pregnant, the best thing to do is check in with your doctor for the most accurate result.
Does PCOS disappear after pregnancy?
You might have stumbled across an article claiming “Pregnancy cured my PCOS”, but is there any truth in it?
PCOS after pregnancy will likely still be hanging around ‒ pregnancy is not the only thing your body was designed to do, and while the fluctuating hormones after pregnancy may make it look like your PCOS has gone, it’s probably not the case.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for PCOS, it’s all about managing your symptoms in a way that works for you.
Can PCOS go away with weight loss?
No, PCOS doesn’t go away with weight loss, but it might make your symptoms more manageable.
PCOS doesn’t have a cure, but there are ways to treat your symptoms.
Can you treat PCOS without birth control?
Have a chat with your doctor about your PCOS symptoms, and they’ll give some advice on how best to treat them.
There you have it ‒ all there is to know about how to get pregnant with PCOS.
Looking for the best way to get pregnant with PCOS? Well, that’s up to you ‒ pregnancy is an individual journey, and no route is the same.
Keen to share your PCOS pregnancy story, or want to hear about other mamas’ experiences with PCOS and fertility? Join us on Peanut to find your PCOS people.