PCOS and pregnancy: What are the risks?

PCOS and pregnancy: What are the risks?

PCOS is a hormonal condition that affects a large percentage of women of childbearing age. It can affect up to 30-50 percent of women of fertile age in India. Although PCOS makes pregnancy and childbirth difficult, it is possible to achieve parenthood with proper help. Women with PCOS can have a safe pregnancy and deliver healthy babies with PCOS fertility treatment.

If you have a condition associated with PCOS, understanding your condition is the first step toward a healthy pregnancy. Here’s everything you need to know about PCOS and how you can improve it.

Does PCOS cause infertility?

PCOS is known to make conception difficult and may cause infertility. However, while the chances are reduced, women with PCOS can get pregnant naturally. PCOS complications can usually be treated with medical guidance and lifestyle changes.

Read also | Managing PCOS with Holistic Nutrition


Women who are obese are more likely to have PCOS. Once they gain extra weight, women may find it very difficult to lose weight. Obesity leads to other health complications such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

hormonal imbalance

PCOS usually results in two types of hormonal imbalances: high levels of androgen and insulin. All women produce small amounts of androgens, or “male hormones.” But PCOS causes the body to produce more testosterone, which leads to increased facial and body hair, male pattern baldness, and acne. Similarly, women also develop “insulin resistance,” which leads to high levels of insulin in the bloodstream. This can also interfere with ovulation and fertility.

Irregular ovulation

One of the most common signs of PCOS is the absence or irregularity of menstruation. Normally, one mature egg is released in each menstrual cycle. But because of increased testosterone in women with PCOS, the eggs do not mature or are released. Without ovulation, sperm cannot fertilize an egg, which leads to infertility.

Risks to the mother

If you suffer from PCOS, pregnancy comes with additional risks for the mother and baby. It is important to constantly monitor health throughout pregnancy and monitor any complications.


Preeclampsia is a serious condition characterized by the sudden onset of high blood pressure, usually after 20 weeks of pregnancy. This can affect multiple organs, such as the kidneys and liver. If left untreated, the condition can also lead to death.

Increase the chances of miscarriage

Recent studies have reported that women with PCOS are three times more likely to miscarry than healthy women. This may be due to the increased androgen. High insulin levels can also affect the health of the uterus, leading to early pregnancy loss. Although there is limited evidence, some medications in the treatment of fertility PCOS are said to reduce the risk of miscarriage.

Pregnancy diabetes

In women with PCOS, the risk of developing diabetes increases with pregnancy. Although gestational diabetes occurs only in pregnant women and can be treated, elevated insulin levels may persist after pregnancy due to PCOS. If not controlled, gestational diabetes can affect the pregnancy, even leading to stillbirth.

Risks to the child

If the mother has PCOS, the baby also has some risks during pregnancy and delivery. The chances of developing some diseases such as type 2 diabetes are higher in children throughout their lives.

Other complications for the baby include:

Birth before expected time

Mothers with PCOS have a higher chance of giving birth prematurely, that is, before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Babies born prematurely have many short- and long-term complications such as breathing and heart problems. They may also need to stay in intensive care.

Weight gain at birth

Babies of women with PCOS are usually older for their gestational age. As a result, these women often give birth through caesarean section because vaginal delivery of larger babies can lead to additional complications.

Inherited PCOS

If the baby is a girl, there are higher chances that the baby will inherit PCOS. A study showed that daughters of women with PCOS had a five times higher chance of being diagnosed with the condition.

Tips to increase your chances of getting pregnant with PCOS

If you suffer from PCOS and wish to become pregnant, it is best to seek medical advice. Doctors will determine your condition first, as not all women with PCOS have the appearance of PCOS. Once confirmed, the doctor will suggest the appropriate treatment.

Besides medications, doctors usually recommend certain lifestyle changes that can help you get pregnant and control PCOS. Here are some tips you can follow to stay healthy and increase your chances of getting pregnant.

Exercising and losing weight

Nearly half of all women with PCOS are obese. To return to a regular menstrual cycle, you need to lose weight and keep it within healthy limits. Although it is difficult to lose weight, regular exercise and diet make it easier to reach the desired weight. However, this is not a solution in itself to increase your chances of getting pregnant.

stress reduction

While infertility can be stressful, it is essential to take care of your mental health. Stress is known to exacerbate PCOS symptoms. Hence, including healthy mental habits in your daily routine is essential. Try practicing meditation and adopt a positive approach to situations.

Medicines and treatment

Although lifestyle changes are helpful, they are not enough to treat infertility associated with PCOS. Many women benefit from medications that regulate the menstrual cycle. These hormone supplements can be taken orally or by injection. The ovaries help release a mature egg that can be fertilized naturally.

Other medications can also help maintain androgen and insulin levels, which are essential to your overall health. Apart from this, assisted reproductive techniques like IVF are also beneficial for women with PCOS.

(Dr Gurpreet Singh Kalra, MD, MSc, FFMLM, is the Medical Director of ART Fertility Clinics in India. He is an Honorary Academic Lecturer at the University of Bristol (UK) and a Fellow of the School of Medical Leadership and Management (UK).)

2022-05-19 11:47:52

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