September 9, 2021 | By: Steph Kagan, Nurse Practitioner
PCOS or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is one of the most common causes for infertility challenges for women, but many do get pregnant with PCOS! Learn more about PCOS basics here, and follow the 5 tips below to give yourself the best chance of success!
Tip One: Lifestyle Modifications
Optimize your health and wellbeing! Multiple studies have shown us that the gold standard for helping the cycle become more regular is nutrition and lifestyle-based. Our goal at Premom is to help solve the root problem to help you conceive, as opposed to putting a bandaid on the problem! The recommendation is a two-part approach!
Part one is having a nutrient-dense diet! What exactly does this mean? It means you want to focus on consuming healthy, unprocessed foods like eggs (with the yolk!), vegetables (steamed, sautéed, raw, etc), fruit (2-3 servings a day), quality proteins like chicken, beef, bison and so on. You also want to pack the diet with healthy fats from foods such as avocados, nuts and seeds and a serving of quality dairy. We suggest one serving of dairy a day at most. This could come from consuming a full fat yogurt or greek yogurt, or through a serving of cheese, or a glass of whole milk. Eating whole fat dairy helps to allow the proteins in the dairy to be more easily digested, causing less side effects or tummy troubles. You want to avoid processed foods that contain canola oil or vegetable oil. These are inflammatory in your body and wreak havoc on your overall health. This means limiting foods like pasta, chips, cookies, crackers, protein bars, white bread, etc.
Part two is exercise! Start slow with trying to be active at least 4-5 days a week for at least 20 minutes a day. This can be a walk around your neighborhood, playing tag with a little one, riding an exercise bike or taking a class at the gym! As your body becomes more accustomed to working out, you can gently increase the intensity. There is no need to overdo it -- just focus on a moderate intensity 4 days a week! This will help to regulate blood sugars and help stabilize hormones.
Tip Two: Track your Ovulation
Track your cycles! One of the hardest parts of PCOS is that your cycle may not be predictable. It may be difficult to know exactly when your fertile window is, which makes timing intercourse challenging! If each month your cycle is different, you will want to use ovulation strips to help find your fertile window!
Tracking your cycle will allow you to visualize the rise and fall of your LH levels (measured with ovulation tests). LH stands for luteinizing hormone, which is the hormone that triggers the body to start the ovulation process. When you use ovulation strips, you will be able to see when exactly your body is going through this process, which will allow you to have intercourse at the correct time and boost your chance of pregnancy!
Some women with PCOS have higher baseline LH levels, meaning the resting LH level is higher than a woman without PCOS. Premom offers a solution for this with the quantitative strips. The quantitative strips measure an actual LH value -- as opposed to looking at the ratio between the test and control line -- and can be a better option for women with PCOS. Learn more about the difference between quantitative strips and regular ovulation strips here.
Tip Three: Medication & Supplements for PCOS
PCOS has a metabolic component that can impact the way your body uses sugar. This could cause problems with insulin resistance and increase your risk of diabetes and heart disease. Having a chat with your OB/GYN or Primary Care Provider about using a medication called Metformin can be a good idea. This medication can help with insulin sensitivity. You will want to make sure to keep your diet free of starchy carbs like pasta, bread, crackers and high sugar foods. It can lead to some unpleasant GI side effects.
Some supplements than can be helpful include ovasitol, which is over the counter and usually taken twice daily. Other supplements in general -- not as specific to PCOS, but helpful for fertility -- include vitamin D3 2000iu daily, folic acid or folate, and choline. You should always talk to your doctor about supplements and making sure they are right for you.
Tip Four: Confirm with Basal Body Temperature
Having PCOS can make ovulation more irregular and challenging. Using a second form of testing after the preferred ovulation strips can be helpful. We suggest using BBT (basal body temperature) testing to look for a slight rise in body temperature that occurs shortly after ovulation (usually within a couple of days)! Premom offers a BBT thermometer that wirelessly syncs all of your information right to the app. Find BBT tips for best practices here.
Tip Five: Seek Help!
After tracking and using your ovulation strips for a year if you are under 35 (or after tracking 6 months if over 35), it would be wise to seek an opinion from a reproductive endocrinologist. Having an initial consult can often be covered by insurance and does not commit you to any fertility treatment, but will offer you the option to complete further testing while allowing you to make an educated decision. Be sure to bring your Premom data so you can show your doctor how your cycles have looked as you track them! If you are a member, then bring your cycle reports for easy analysis by your doc!
Overall, PCOS can present quite the challenge for women who are trying to conceive, but Premom is here to help! We have solutions to help you identify your fertile window, confirm ovulation with BBT and communicate with your doctor in an organized fashion! Focus on nutrition and exercise and use the features of the app to help you optimize the chance of pregnancy!