Q&A: Will PCOS hurt my long-term fertility?
I have just been diagnosed with PCOS, and although I'm not yet ready to have kids, what steps can I take now to ensure my future fertility?
PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) is a condition that affects about one in ten women, and may seriously inhibit fertility. Women with PCOS generally produce higher than normal levels of male hormones (androgens), which may hinder the ability to ovulate and have regular menstrual cycles. Additionally, insulin—a hormone important in controlling and using circulating blood sugar—is produced at a faster rate in women with PCOS, resulting in higher levels.
If you suffer from PCOS, you may be concerned about how to care for yourself and protect your fertility. Unfortunately, there is no way to ensure your fertility, but you can increase your chances of getting pregnant. The doctor who provided the diagnosis may have a plan for you. Some women may be started on medication to help regulate and control insulin levels. Other women may be put on birth control pills to help balance her hormones.
Many PCOS patients have found it helpful to dedicate themselves to a healthy lifestyle approach. If you are overweight (research indicates that up to 60 % of women with PCOS may be overweight), exercise and healthy eating that leads to weight loss may help to regulate insulin levels without the use of medication. By reducing your weight to a healthy level, you will also improve your cardiovascular health, which will ultimately benefit your long-term health and will minimize your chances of potential problems when you do get pregnant.
Preparing your body for future pregnancies will increase you chances of success. Talk to your doctor about which approach is best for you to maximize both your health and your chances of becoming pregnant.