Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a condition that affects women by changing how their body reacts to certain hormones, such as insulin. The body utilizes insulin to transform food into energy. When a woman has PCOS, it is harder for her body to use insulin properly, which in turn causes more of the hormone to be made. The high insulin levels will cause women to develop far more androgens, which are male hormones.
This higher level of androgens can cause certain male signs to be expressed, such as extra hair or acne on the body or face. Weight gain is another symptom of PCOS, especially around the midsection of the body. These hormone changes can prevent the ovaries from releasing an egg or ovum every month, thus causing the woman with PCOS to have problems with conceiving or missing periods.
How Does PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) Affect Pregnancy
As mentioned above, PCOS can cause a woman to have problems getting pregnant. In addition to that, women with PCOS are more likely to have a miscarriage or develop gestational diabetes that only appears during pregnancy or preeclampsia, which is a type of high blood pressure complication that only appears in pregnancy. These women are also at a slightly greater risk of giving birth to a large baby or having a premature birth.
Other than that, women with PCOS have a higher risk of giving birth to babies who spend time inside the neonatal intensive care unit or die prior to, during, or immediately after birth. The complications such as preeclampsia might be a reason for such risks. Common conditions associated with PCOS, such as increased androgens and metabolic syndrome, can also increase the risks to infants.
We will now take a closer look at PCOS related complications that you might experience during pregnancy.
Gestational diabetes: You can only have this diabetes with PCOS if you are pregnant. It can be treated and will not cause a lot of problems for you or the fetus if controlled. The condition often goes away once the baby is born. Women with gestational diabetes are likely to have very large belly that calls for the need of C-section or cesarean delivery, and often have trouble breathing and low blood sugar. If you have this diabetes, both you and your children are at a greater risk of developing Type 2 diabetes in the future.
Early loss of pregnancy or miscarriage: When you have PCOS, you are three times more likely to have a miscarriage during the early months of pregnancy. Some studies show that metformin might lower the risk of miscarriage, but this is not officially confirmed.
High blood pressure that is induced by pregnancy: This condition develops when blood pressure levels increase during the second half of pregnancy. It can cause preeclampsia if left untreated. In addition, this form of high blood pressure could affect the baby’s delivery.
Preeclampsia: This is a sudden surge in blood pressure levels after week twenty of pregnancy, and it can affect your brain, liver, and kidneys. If left untreated, you could develop eclampsia, a condition that causes seizures, organ damage, and even death. At present, the primary treatment for this condition is delivering the baby, if necessary even preterm. If you are pregnant with preeclampsia, you might require a surgical or C-section delivery, and this carries additional risks for the baby and mother.
Preterm birth: Babies are considered preterm when they are delivered before thirty-seven weeks of pregnancy. When babies are born preterm, they are at risk for other health problems immediately after birth and even later in life.
C-section or Cesarean delivery: If you are pregnant with PCOS, you are more likely to have a caesarean birth due to the pregnancy complications which are linked to PCOS. C-section is a surgical procedure, so it comes with additional risks for you and the baby, and the recovery could take a much longer time than a vaginal birth.
There is no actual cure for this condition, but certain medicines and various other forms of treatment can help reduce further problems. This includes drugs which are used to treat diabetes and high cholesterol. In most cases, birth control pills are the first line of treatment for someone who has PCOS and does not want to get pregnant. There are also medicines available that can help women to ovulate or release eggs in order to get pregnant.
When it comes to overweight women who have PCOS, they have to exercise and eat less to lose weight. The weight loss will help the body to use insulin a lot better. Most women even start to have a monthly period and can get pregnant after losing just a few pounds. Moreover, weight loss can help to reduce the risk of having high blood pressure, stroke, or heart attack.
If you think that you have PCOS, you need to see a medical doctor because many other diseases come with the same symptoms.