Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a common hormone disorder among women of reproductive age. It can make conception much more challenging but there are ways to treat this condition so a woman can ovulate normally, conceive and have a healthy pregnancy.
PCOS is one of the most common causes of female infertility affecting around 1 in 10 here in the UK and there’s a good chance someone you know has it. While this condition can make conceiving difficult as it raises risks of other complications during pregnancy, but once a woman does conceive they go on to deliver healthy babies.
What is PCOS?
PCOS is a hormonal imbalance that results in problems ovulating. It occurs when egg sacs within the ovary fail to develop properly causing benign cysts on the surface of the ovary which in turn interfere with ovulation. Many women can have polycystic ovaries but not all women develop PCOS. Women who suffer with PCOS tend to have higher levels of testosterone, which can hinder ovulation and is linked to irregular or absent periods.
What causes PCOS?
Doctors are not sure what causes this condition but there are some factors that have been linked to it
PCOS can run in families. So if your Mum or a close female relative has PCOS, your chances of developing it are higher.
Women who suffer with this condition have higher levels of androgen hormones. Androgen hormones are found in both males and females and they contribute to growth and reproduction. These hormones are thought of as ‘male hormones’ because they control traits like male pattern baldness but the female body naturally produces a small amounts of it too.
Research has found that women with PCOS have high levels of insulin. Because their bodies have a challenging time using it properly, insulin also controls the function of the ovaries, and too much insulin in the body can cause irregular or absent ovulation.
Overweight/Obese women are at a greater risk of PCOS and women with PCOS are at risk of becoming overweight. It’s still not clear whether excess weight can cause this condition. If you are trying to conceive, it’s a good idea to start eating clean and include lots of fruit, veggies, and nuts and ditch the bad carbs and processed foods and take up some exercise if you are not doing so already.
Since birth control alter your natural hormone balance, side effects of some of these birth control pills, jabs etc can give you the same effect as PCOS and also can mask symptoms of PCOS. Some combination pills can cause weight gain which can make symptoms worse and some pills can increase the risk of diabetes. Doctors will tell you to watch out for the side effects of birth control but what they don’t tell you is that it depletes your body of Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin E & B complex other side effects could range from tooth decay, hair loss, skin issues, infertility, mental health problems and bone loss, stomach issues just to name a few.
What are the Symptoms of PCOS?
PCOS often develops after puberty, but sometimes it can develop later on. The symptoms of this condition are
Prolonged vaginal bleeding (occasionally)
Insomnia/poor quality of sleep
Excessive hair growth on the chest, back, bottom or face (Hirsutism)
Thinning hair or hair loss
Acne or very oily skin
Type 2 Diabetes (usually later on in life)
High cholesterol levels
High blood pressure
Risk of cancer (endometrial cancer)
Because many women that don’t have this condition may also experience the above symptoms so it’s best to consult your doctor if you have irregular periods or suddenly develop any of the symptoms mentioned before.
What are the treatment options for PCOS?
PCOS can’t be cured but a healthy lifestyle can help manage the symptoms. Your doctor can help decide the best treatment for you based on your medical history. A well balanced diet that’s rich in complex carbs and sugar can support and restore ovulation and regular periods. Losing weight can help treat it. Losing weight can improve insulin level, normalise your hormone levels and regulate your menstrual cycle. Certain Complimentary Therapies is a great way to rebalance the hormones and make you feel calm and lift your mood.
Reflexology is known to help symptoms of PCOS and is extremely effective in resetting the endocrine system balancing the hormones and managing stress and bringing about all over relaxation.
Certain Aromatherapy oils can help symptoms of PCOS by boosting the limbic system and reset the hormones and release built up stress both mental and physical. Some oils can even improve insulin sensitivity and others may ease other symptoms. There are even oils that can help with acne, hirsutism, fatigue and digestive problems. Unlike conventional medicines, aromatherapy oils can help all symptoms without any really bad side effects. But saying this, if you need medical help then seek a doctor and ask if any medication that might be suggested can still be used in conjunction with aromatherapy oils. Here are a list of essential oils that can help with PCOS symptoms
Improves oestrogen, reduce cortisol levels and helps with pms, cramping and mood swings. Good for hormonal mood disorders. It can also boost hair growth, fight acne and improve fertility.
Balances progesterone levels in the body, Helps with insomnia, mood swings, weight gain and hot flushes. Also good for low levels of progesterone which interferes with ovulation.
Balances Testosterone levels in both men and women. Good for acne, hirsutism and male pattern baldness. Good for an all over massage as the scent helps balance out the hormones and improve the libido.
The lovely scent of Geranium stimulates the adrenals which helps balance the hormones. It works as a natural anti-depressant and can help relieve anxiety and stress. It’s also a natural uterine and ovarian tonic in folk medicine. It also promotes a feeling of calm, improve fertility and improve acne.
As we know Lavender is a popular choice for many. Not only does it relieve stress and promote relaxation, it also fights anxiety and depression. Rubbing a few drops of Lavender essential oil a along with a few drops of your favourite carrier oil can bring relief from PMS symptoms like dysmenorrhea (painful periods) menstrual cramps. Putting a few drops of lavender oil on your pillow can help you stay calm and promote quality sleep.
Cinnamon can improve insulin sensitivity, regulate blood glucose levels and lipids help you lose weight as the scent positively affects hunger.
Ylang Ylang essential oil is now to be a natural anti-depressant; it helps balance cortisol and the adrenals to fight stress. It’s very good for the skin as it helps balance out the oil in the skin and improves hair growth as well as improve fertility. It also helps improve self-esteem in women that suffer with hormonal disruptions.
How to use
You can diffuse by using a vaporiser or humidifier or directly inhale or apply a few drops to your pillow so you can inhale whilst sleeping.
Apply topically but never apply directly on skin as they are very potent and can cause skin irritation. Always blend with your favourite carrier oil.
Can you conceive with PCOS?
Yes you can. It is possible for women with PCOS to conceive on their own or with the help of medications that can help cause ovulation or with IVF. When all else fails some couples discover Fertility Reflexology as the last result as it supports hormone imbalance alongside eating a healthy balanced diet and exercise. Some people opt for Fertility Reflexology along with IVF treatments. When the body isn’t working at its peak, the endocrine system is out of balance and not secreting hormones in the right sequence for pregnancy to take place. Fertility Reflexology not only deeply relaxes the body but it also brings the body back into equilibrium and improves infertility issues such as PCOS. This treatment is becoming more widely known as solutions to various fertility issues as it offers a natural approach by encouraging deep relaxation which alleviates stress and tension both physical and emotionally. This together with improvements in diet and lifestyle has the potential to bring the body back into balance and increasing fertility levels.
What are the possible risks of PCOS during pregnancy?
Women who have PCOS and are pregnant are more likely to develop certain complications including:
Women who have PCOS are more likely to suffer a miscarriage during the early stages of pregnancy than women who don’t have the condition, but some research indicates that taking metformin may reduce this risk.
Gestational diabetes only appears during pregnancy, it is a condition in which the hormones from the placenta block the body’s production of the hormone insulin, which results in high blood sugar levels. This condition is treatable and will usually go away after giving birth (although some women go on to develop type 2 diabetes later on in life).
Preeclampsia is a sudden onset of high blood pressure and swelling of the hands and face. It develops after 20 weeks of pregnancy. When caught early, it’s usually a straightforward treatment but it could lead to premature birth.
Having PCOS is linked to depression and anxiety due to the high levels of androgen hormones as well as binge eating.
Can PCOS complicate Birth?
Because women who suffer with PCOS are more likely to have complications like high blood pressure, they’re also slightly more likely to have a C- Section.
How to increase your chances of conceiving with PCOS
If you have PCOS, you can boost your chances of getting pregnant with medication, eating well, changing your lifestyle and opting for treatments such as Reflexology or Aromatherapy Massage. Always talk to your doctor before opting for any natural alternatives to make sure they are compatible with any conventional drugs they might prescribe.
While PCOS has have an impact on your fertility and pregnancy journey with the right care and treatments, conception and a healthy pregnancy is totally possible.