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PCOS & Pregnancy
Some women with PCOS become pregnant naturally; for others pregnancy becomes possible with the help of lifestyle changes, medical treatment, and/or infertility treatment. However, PCOS can affect a pregnant woman and her pregnancy in several ways.
Women with PCOS have a higher miscarriage rate than women without it. Although the cause is not understood, it may be due to elevated levels of luteinizing hormones, insulin, or glucose. The best way to reduce your risk of miscarriage is to normalize your hormone levels. Normalizing blood sugar and glucose levels may also be helpful. If you’re taking Metformin, it might reduce the chance of miscarriage, but continuing it during pregnancy is considered controversial so be sure to talk with your doctor about what’s right for you.
Since many women with PCOS are insulin resistant, they have an increased risk of gestational diabetes during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes is a temporary type of diabetes that may develop during the second half of pregnancy and usually goes away after the baby is born. With gestational diabetes, your body doesn’t produce enough insulin to process sugar during pregnancy so the fetus may get too much sugar. If untreated, this can lead to a larger-than-normal baby, premature delivery, and increased chance of cesarean delivery. With treatment, however, most women have a healthy baby.
Pre-eclampsia is pregnancy-induced high blood pressure, and it usually occurs during the second half of pregnancy. With pre-eclampsia, the placenta doesn’t get enough blood so it can’t deliver enough oxygen and food to the fetus. This can result in low birth weight and other health problems for the baby. If detected early and treated, most women can still deliver a healthy child.
Although having PCOS does not necessarily mean you’ll have a high-risk pregnancy, you may require special monitoring. If you’re severely diabetic, insulin resistant, or have high blood pressure, ask your doctor if you should see a high-risk Ob/Gyn.
Read more about PCOS symptoms and treatments within FertilityAuthority's Ask Dr Fertility resource.