Today we are talking pregnancy. We’ve discussed PCOD, its symptoms, treatment options and solutions before. Briefly put, PCOD is an endocrine and reproductive disorder that causes hormonal imbalance. This affects women’s menstrual cycle, body, mood, and fertility.
Why does PCOD cause problems with pregnancy?
Women with PCOD produce excess male hormones. This interferes with the timely release of eggs, i.e., the process of ovulation. Due to this, their cycle is irregular. Release of healthy egg is a prerequisite for fertilization. It is to be noted that not all women with PCOD will have difficulty with pregnancy. Some may take longer or are likely to need treatment.
What are some health risks with pregnancy?
- Women with PCOD have higher chances of developing diabetes when they get pregnant or later between 24-28 weeks of pregnancy. This is called Gestational diabetes. Like other kinds of diabetes, it affects sugar levels. Few warning signs of Gestation diabetes include – sugar in urine, always feeling thirsty, frequent urination, fatigue, nausea, blurred vision, vaginal, bladder and skin infections.
- Pregnancy induced high blood pressure may occur in the second half of pregnancy. If not treated it can lead to Preeclampsia, which affects the mother’s kidneys, liver and brain.
- Miscarriage or early loss. Studies show that this can be reduced with medications.
- Preterm birth is when a baby is delivered before 37 weeks of pregnancy.
- Cesarean delivery (C-section)
Most of these risks are seen in women with an unhealthy lifestyle and obese individuals. Let’s jump into how you can minimize pregnancy problems in PCOD:
How do I increase chances of pregnancy?
Treatment and procedures:
Non-pharmacological measures –
It is important all women are in their best health while trying to conceive. One of the ways women with PCOD can increase chances of pregnancy is through maintaining a healthy lifestyle. This includes – healthy BMI, cutting back on smoking and drinking, good nourishing diet, getting sound sleep and regular exercise.
This helps stabilize your ovulation cycle. For those who ovulate, having sex during ‘fertile window’ increases chances of conception.
What’s a Fertile window and how do I calculate it?
The first day of your period is day one of your cycle. Ovulation happens 14 days before your next period (for 28 days cycle) or 16 days (for 30 days cycle). Women are more likely to conceive 5 days leading up to and on the day of ovulation.
Fertile window is, therefore, days 9-14 or 11-16, according to your cycle.
Tip: Try logging your details or maintaining a journal to better keep track of your days.
When should I visit the doctor?
Women with PCOS should monitor their ovulation, and have regular sexual intercourse during their fertile window for 6 months (if you’re 35+) to a year. If you still don’t succeed, it’s time to visit a fertility specialist.
Pharmacological measures –
Ovulation Induction - This is a process of consuming oral medications or injections to trigger the ovaries to release an egg for fertilization. This can be done through sexual intercourse or through Intra-uterine insemination (artificial insemination procedure).
If this doesn’t yield results, the next would be to try IVF (in vitro fertilization). This is the process of injecting fertility drugs to stimulate ovaries to produce good amount of eggs. The eggs are retrieved and placed with sperm in a petri dish. After few days, if the fertilization occurs, one or two eggs will be put back in the uterus.
Before these procedures’ fertility specialists recommend medications like Clomefene Citrate, Metformin or combination of the two. There’s also surgical procedure called ‘laparoscopic ovarian drilling’ which kills the tissues on ovaries that produces the excess testosterone.
Staying positive through the hard times
No, it isn’t your fault. Fertility issues can be exhausting both physically and emotionally. It’s not uncommon for women to experience feelings of anxiousness, hopelessness, and frustration. Give yourself permission to feel however you’re feeling and your partner the space to cope differently than you.
While it may seem impossible, many couples conceive after a difficult start. Be patient in finding a treatment that works for you. If not, consider alternative means to raise a child with your partner. Seek support - individual and or couple’s therapy to help navigate through this process. Last but not the least, be optimistic but also realistic.