A diagnosis of PCOS can come as a relief. It explains a long list of symptoms, and it can give you a place to begin your research into how to manage the them and reduce their effects. It can also feel like a huge setback if you’re thinking about your fertility. PCOS isn’t very well understood but what most people know about it is that it makes it difficult to have children, and a diagnosis can leave a lot of people wondering if they’ll ever be able to start a family.
We’re here to help, by fact checking the myth that PCOS means infertility, by helping you understand how to ovulate with PCOS and what you can do to take advantage of when you ovulate and give yourself the best chance of a successful conception.
What Does PCOS Do?
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome does indeed have a dramatic effect on your fertility – the hormone disruption of the condition causes your ovaries to be slow and irregular in how they mature eggs each menstrual cycle. Normally ten to twenty eggs are matured each month is sacs called follicles. The healthiest egg is ovulated after 11-27 days (depending on what is normal for your body), and then has a 24 hour life span in which it can be fertilised by sperm.
When you have PCOS these eggs take longer to mature, and remain in the ovaries, causing inflammation. This makes your menstrual cycle, and ovulation, rare and less predictable, or can even lead your body skipping menstruation altogether.
This means you have fewer chances to get pregnant, and it can be harder to identify them, which does effectively reduce your fertility, but crucially, it doesn’t mean you can’t get pregnant!
Step one is to try and help your body ovulate more – not just more frequently but more regularly. Ovulating on a regular schedule helps you identify your best chances to conceive.
There are medicines that can help to stimulate ovulation – Clomid is the most frequently prescribed – but they come with a list of side effects that might make you think twice about using them. Fortunately, even simple diet and lifestyle changes can restore order, and put your body back on a more even schedule.
Eating more green vegetables doesn’t just boost your health in general: it gives you a specific top up of the nutrients that go towards building healthy sperm, and support regular menstrual cycles. It’s also a good step on the road towards losing some of the weight that PCOS can make you gain. If you can lose this weight, you can reduce the level of insulin your body produces and that can relieve all the symptoms of PCOS, including the effects on your fertility.
To identify when you’re ovulating, and target the resulting fertile days, you’ll need a method that won’t be affected by the hormone disruption that PCOS causes. Measuring your Basal Body Temperature can give you an accurate prediction that allows you to make your plans around the days when you’re most likely to conceive, and doesn’t have its accuracy thrown off by the hormone irregularities of PCOS!