Fertility Answers - Helping Build Families

PCOS and Infertility

Women with PCOS ovulate infrequently or not at all

The inability of some women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) to produce and release an egg is due to a complex web of multiple hormone imbalances. The hormones involved include insulin, androgens, estrogens, progesterone, luteinizing hormone, follicle stimulating hormone, adrenal hormones, thyroid hormones, prolactin, and others.

All of these hormones influence each other in some way. Therefore, if you can improve any one of them, you are taking a step towards optimizing the others and increasing your chances of becoming fertile. Many women with PCOS don’t ovulate and thus cannot become pregnant. So the first treatment option for infertility is usually the administration of drugs to induce ovulation.

Lifestyle changes can also help PCOS patients with infertility. Up to 70% of patients with PCOS are overweight. A loss of just 10% of the total body weight (that’s only 20 pounds for patients that weigh 200 pounds) can improve the chance of ovulation by 50%. One of the best ways to lose those first few pounds is by limiting the intake of foods with a high glycemic index. In addition, the weight loss improves the health of the pregnancy and decreases the chance of miscarriage.

Weight loss is essential for optimal outcome and to stop the cycle of PCOS and Infertility

While diet is the most important component of weight loss BY FAR, exercise can lower insulin levels and improve ovulation, too. But exercise must consist of getting your heart rate up and staying up. Although walking is a favorite form of exercise of many patients, it is only effective if you are increasing the heart rate. A common rule is – if you’re moving slow enough to talk to your exercise partner, you’re not moving fast enough! A good goal for exercise is 150 minutes of moderate exercise every week. The neat thing is you can space it out in small daily increments or be that weekend warrior who works out for 2 1/2 hours every Saturday!

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