The term “Polycystic Ovary Syndrome," more commonly referred to as PCOS, may sound daunting at first, but it’s a rather common condition that affects a surprising number of women. PCOS causes a woman’s hormones to become unbalanced while taking a toll on her ovulation cycle and overall health. PCOS isn’t a terrible diagnosis by any means, but it does come with its fair share of unsavory symptoms that can be especially challenging when it comes to pregnancy.
There’s no shortage of questions and misconceptions about how the affect PCOS can have on pregnant women - but we’re here to help! Here are ten things about PCOS and pregnancy that most moms don’t know about.
10 The Cause Of PCOS Is A Bit Of A Mystery
While you might do everything you can to stay in tip-top shape, some things, PCOS appears to be unavoidable. Although PCOS is a common condition that affects one out of ten women of childbearing age, it’s often difficult to diagnose and even more difficult to pinpoint its exact cause. In the United States alone, over five million women exhibit symptoms of the condition. What we do know is that PCOS is the culprit of hormonal imbalances, making things increasingly difficult for pregnant women and those hoping to get pregnant. Even though PCOS can occur in anyone, there is a fifty percent likelihood that if a mother has PCOS she can pass it on to her daughter as well.
9 It Can Affect Fertility… But You Still Can Get Pregnant
You might already know that PCOS can have a negative effect on your fertility, which can be especially frustrating if you are actively trying to conceive. Women struggling with PCOS produce higher levels of androgens and experience irregular patterns of ovulation.
These two symptoms combined make can make it difficult to get pregnant, but it’s important to know that pregnancy isn’t impossible while dealing with PCOS.
8 Birth Control Can Complicate Things
Most women use birth control to prevent pregnancy, regulate their periods, or simply balance out their hormones. While birth control is a helpful thing, the pill can certainly make things complicated for women with PCOS. For starters, going on birth control can mask the early symptoms of PCOS. Because women with PCOS typically don’t have a regular menstrual cycle, missing or having an extended period can be mistaken as a side effect of the pill instead of the actual underlying issue. On top of that, women with PCOS take longer to return to a more regulated cycle after stopping the use of birth control.
Regular ovulation and a menstrual cycle are necessary to get pregnant, so women dealing with the condition can have longer periods of infertility that are only prolonged by using the pill as contraception.
7 C-Sections And Premature Births Are A Possibility
While any pregnant woman could be faced with the possibility of experiencing a premature birth, expectant mothers with PCOS run an increased risk of complications during pregnancy and delivery. One of those complications is pre-term delivery. This is because PCOS contributeblood pressured-pressure and ultimately, preeclampsia.
Obviously, the goal of any mom-to-be is to keep her bun in the oven as close to forty weeks as possible, but sometimes that’s not always possible due to underlying health issues like PCOS. Women faced with the threat of premature labor are likely to be heavily monitored by their doctor and could also have C-section delivery.
6 You Might Have A Low Milk Supply
While plenty of new moms find themselves struggling with the ups and downs of breastfeeding, those with PCOS may find it especially difficult to produce enough milk to feed their newborn. The reason behind the low milk supply for women with PCOS is a combination of low progesterone levels and a lack of glandular tissue in the breast. Even though your body may not be naturally producing enough milk to exclusively breastfeed, there are many ways to help increase your supply such as drinking lactation teas or visiting a lactation specialist.
If you’ve given it your best shot without yielding the results you hoped for, try not to get discouraged about the breastfeeding process. Moms with PCOS should know that they aren’t alone in their struggles. Plenty of moms, with or without PCOS, have difficulty with milk production but have you ever heard a baby complain about being fed formula? Definitely not. As long as your baby is fed and happy, you are doing your best as a mom despite the challenges that come your way.
5 Fatigue Can Hit You Hard
Feeling like you need a nap before it’s even lunchtime? Pregnancy in itself is exhausting on its own. Growing a tiny human causes your body to work overtime and you will often be tired from all of the changes going on inside of you. Having PCOS while pregnant increases the chances of being fatigued and is one of the leading symptoms of the condition reported by expectant mothers. This is because PCOS can contribute to anemia, thyroid complications, and low levels of vitamin D and vitamin B12. These are especially important to be checked while pregnant to ensure a that both you and your baby are healthy.
4 Hair Loss And Hair Growth In Unwanted Places
Being pregnant can cause you to grow hair in places you never even dreamed of, while postpartum hair loss is totally a thing, too. For women with PCOS, hair loss can be a tough symptom to deal with, especially when you’re already dealing with the many other aspects of being pregnant that aren’t exactly pleasant. Hair loss due to high testosterone levels can cause women with to lose large amounts of hair while simultaneously causing excess hair growth…everywhere else. While this can be frustrating, it’s a commonly reported symptom of PCOS paired with pregnancy.
3 Symptoms Can Be Managed Through Diet And Exercise
As with any pregnancy, diet and exercise play a crucial role in both the health of mommy and baby. While its important to maintain a nutritious diet and some sort of exercise routine while pregnant, the stakes are a bit higher for expectant women with PCOS. A positive lifestyle change will help better manage your PCOS symptoms – and the benefits are long-lasting. Exercise can lead to better sleep cycles, increased endorphins, lower cholesterol, regulated hormones and excess weight loss (which is very common for those with the condition). On top of that, a change in diet can lower inflammation and keep your PCOS symptoms at bay.
2 It Can Take A Toll On Your Mood
Pregnancy and postpartum recovery can already do a number on a woman’s hormones, but PCOS can increase the odds of becoming depressed, anxious and even contentious - especially after having a baby.
As someone who has endured a longtime struggle with PCOS, Teen Mom star Maci Bookout has been vocal about how the condition can affect her ability to parent. Bookout spoke out about her mood swings, revealing, “Sometimes I’m like if I didn’t have PCOS, then maybe I wouldn’t have been so irritable with my children today”. While it’s true that PCOS can make you feel agitated at times, it doesn’t make it impossible to maintain a happy and healthy relationship with your little one.
1 There’s An Increased Risk Of Gestational Diabetes
Getting tested for gestational diabetes is a routine part of any pregnancy, but if you are pregnant and have PCOS, your doctor will likely pay extra attention to the warning signs due to the higher risk of complications. High blood pressure and low insulin levels are all associated with PCOS, surely complicating things for a pregnant woman who’s already dealing with a whole lot on her plate.
It’s true that expectant mothers are faced with an increased risk of developing gestational diabetes, a condition that can occur in women only during pregnancy and usually goes away after giving birth. Even though the symptoms may be temporary, having gestational diabetes while pregnant can put moms at risk of developing type 2 diabetes later on down the road. Gestational diabetes can take a toll on pregnant women and their unborn babies, so it’s important to get glucose screenings especially if you have PCOS.