Can I Get Pregnant with PCOS? Decoding the Facts

Mehak Shah

November 23, 2022

Most women hope to have children at some point in their lives. However, for women with chronic medical conditions, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), this desire is often tempered by concerns over their ability to conceive.

PCOS is a common endocrine disorder that affects up to 5 million women of reproductive age in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

It is also one of the leading causes of female infertility. Even though PCOS can occur in women of all ages, its prevalence is most common in women of childbearing age. 

Learn more about the complex relationship between pregnancy and PCOS below.

Understanding PCOS

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is the most common condition in women of childbearing age. The primary cause of PCOS is an imbalance of reproductive hormones.

These hormonal imbalances result in problems with the ovaries. An egg is supposed to be released from the ovaries every month as part of a regular menstrual cycle. However, in the case of PCOS, the egg either doesn’t develop properly and isn’t released at ovulation, causing enlarged ovaries.

PCOS can result in missed or irregular periods and may cause infertility. Additionally, it could lead to the growth of cysts in the ovaries, which are tiny sacs filled with fluid. However, it is unknown what causes PCOS.

Women with PCOS have an imbalance of “male” and “female” hormones, with androgens being overproduced while oestrogens are underproduced. As a result, it leads to tiny cysts forming on the ovaries’ surface.

PCOS and Pregnancy: The Impact

PCOS can cause problems during pregnancy for both you and your unborn baby. According to a study, PCOS affects 5%-10% of women between the ages of 15 and 44 who are capable of bearing children. Therefore, a woman having difficulty getting pregnant may discover that she has PCOS when she visits her doctor.

Most researchers believe that several variables contribute to PCOS. For example, most women with PCOS have lower amounts of “follicle-stimulating hormone” (FSH), which is necessary for pubertal growth and the health of women’s sexual maturity and men’s testicles. In addition, a higher level of “luteinising hormone” (LH), a hormone that triggers ovulation, has been linked to PCOS.

Androgens, sometimes referred to as “male hormones,” are responsible for developing masculine characteristics, including male pattern baldness.

All women produce trace amounts of androgens, but those with PCOS have higher levels than usual. A woman’s ovaries may not release an egg (ovulate) throughout each menstrual cycle if her androgen levels are higher than usual.

Insulin resistance occurs when cells in the body do not react to insulin as they should. Women with PCOS frequently exhibit insulin resistance, particularly those who are obese, have unhealthy eating, insufficient exercise, or have a family history of diabetes (usually type 2 diabetes).

A study found that menstrual cycles are typically irregular in women with PCOS because of the hormonal imbalances that cause them to either not ovulate or ovulate sporadically.

As a result, women with PCOS are more likely to have trouble getting pregnant than other women. Pregnant women with PCOS may experience miscarriage, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and cesarean sections (C-sections). However, PCOS can appear at any age after puberty.

Additionally, the baby is more likely to spend more time in a newborn critical care unit (NICU) and develop macrosomia, an obesity condition.

Can a Woman with PCOS Get Pregnant?

Although there is no permanent cure for PCOS, the symptoms are manageable. That increases the chances of becoming pregnant. PCOS is a common cause of female infertility that results from hormonal imbalances.

These imbalances then interfere with the production and release of eggs from the ovaries. If you are unable to ovulate, you cannot get pregnant. However, one can get pregnant with various ways to manage PCOS symptoms.

More research needs to be conducted on the topic, but some studies suggest that women with PCOS might take longer to become pregnant and require reproductive treatment.

You can talk to your doctor about ways to increase your likelihood of conception and help you ovulate. Additionally, you can use an ovulation calculator to determine which days of your menstrual cycle are most fertile.

What are the Options for PCOS Treatment if You’re Trying to Get Pregnant?

PCOS patients are primarily concerned about getting pregnant and what they could do to increase their chances of getting pregnant. Moreover, they are interested in finding out what they should do before trying to get pregnant and the best way to get ready for pregnancy. Here are a few of them:

Healthy Lifestyle

If your BMI exceeds 30, losing weight with a balanced diet and exercise regimen is advisable. It may trigger your body to ovulate. Even if it doesn’t, it will improve the performance of your medication and reduce pregnancy-related risks. Additionally, a variety of medications are available to help with PCOS pregnancy. 

You can also consult a HealthifyMe coach for a customised healthy eating plan.


After your doctor has ruled out all other potential causes of infertility in you and your spouse, they may recommend clomiphene or another ovulation-inducing medication. However, take those medicines only if the doctor prescribes them.

In Vitro Fertilisation

In vitro fertilisation (IVF) may be an alternative if medication is unsuccessful. Furthermore, in IVF, the sperm and egg are fertilised externally and then implanted in the uterus. IVF has higher pregnancy rates.


Surgery is an alternative but is often used in cases where all other treatments fail. In women with PCOS, the ovaries’ outer layer is thicker, which is thought to contribute to the inhibition of natural ovulation.

In a procedure known as laparoscopic ovarian drilling, the surgeon uses lasers or a small, heated needle to puncture a few holes in the surface of your ovary.

Usually, surgery restores ovulation, but only for a few. Approximately 50% of women are able to get pregnant in the same year with this treatment. But it is not commonly used.

The HealthifyMe Note

You should adopt a healthy lifestyle to increase your chances of getting pregnant and having a healthy baby. It includes maintaining a healthy weight, quitting smoking, consuming less alcohol, eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep. You may also need medical assistance to get pregnant if your periods are irregular or you’re not ovulating.

About the Author

Mehak holds masters in foods and nutrition from Amity university, Noida. She has a keen interest in public health and nutrition and has been in charge of various projects with milestone NGO. She has worked with people over the globe to bring out the changes in their lives and has always been working towards lifestyle modifications via good dietary practices. According to her a healthy lifestyle is not about the destination but all about the journey.

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