PCOS And Pregnancy, What Exactly Is The Contingency?
Polycystic ovary syndrome is a hormonal disorder causing enlarged ovaries with small cysts on the outer edges. The cause of which isn’t well understood, but may involve a combination of genetic and environmental factors. The symptoms include menstrual irregularity, excess hair growth, acne and obesity. Every 1 in 5 women suffer from this in India.
Treatments include birth control pills to regularize periods, medication called metformin to prevent diabetes, statins to control high cholesterol, hormones to increase fertility and procedures to remove excess hair.
PCOS? Such a pain, more or less.
Pregnant women with PCOS experience a higher incidence of perinatal morbidity from gestational diabetes, pregnancy-induced hypertension, and preeclampsia. Their babies are at an increased risk of neonatal complications, such as preterm birth and admission at a neonatal intensive care unit. It can also lead to miscarriages or early loss of pregnancy. Women with PCOS are three times as likely to miscarry in the early months of pregnancy as are women without PCOS. Some research shows that metformin may reduce the risk of miscarriage in pregnant women with PCOS. It is not a thing to worry about but to just focus on regulating all the steps you can undertake to lead a healthy lifestyle.
Calling constructive crucial conversations
Thankfully, the conversation around PCOS has really opened up in recent years, leading to a greater awareness of the signs and symptoms to look out for. In part, that’s down to more and more celebrities and influencers using their platform to highlight the condition and share their experience with it.
You must have heard about model and activist Harnaam Kaur, if not, you are living under a rock! She is perhaps one of the most well-known influencers to open up about her PCOS, in part due to her facial hair, which she has grown out since the age of 16. Being baptized Sikh, Harnaam lets her hair grow out in accordance with her religious beliefs – including the hair that grows on her face as a result of her PCOS. She says, “When I was growing up, I didn’t see anyone in magazines or on TV that looked like me. That can have a horrid effect on a person’s mental health.” She further adds, “I was 16 years old when I decided to grow my facial hair. I made the decision after my GSCEs and let it grow out over the six-week summer holiday. So when I returned to my school in Slough for the sixth form, I was a girl with a beard.” Okay, maybe not her, but you have definitely heard about Victoria Beckham, right? Notorious for keeping her private life on the down-low, one thing that former Spice Girl Victoria Beckham has been very open about is her experience with PCOS, which she was diagnosed with while trying to conceive her fourth child.
So when to do what we need to do?
Listen up and understand well. Fertility levels start to wane after the age of 32, and a steeper decline is recorded post the age of 37. Therefore, for women with PCOS who struggle to get pregnant naturally, doctors suggest that the best way is to try often. The highest odds of natural conception for women with PCOS remain before the age of 35, provided if ovulation happens frequently and there are no preconditions the other partner suffers from. If primary parameters remain well in check, conception can happen within a year’s time. However, if a couple continues to face problems, consulting with doctors can guide them on the right path. Reading all this may seem daunting although, exercising regularly, following a good diet and lifestyle, reducing weight, limiting exposures to toxins and chemicals, having more frequent sex (five days leading up to ovulation) can help in conceiving even further.
Cover Illustration by: Abhilasha Muttoo