What can I do to improve my chances of conceiving if I have PCOS?

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is actually a disease of excess. A woman with PCOS will have anything from an excess of sugar, an excess of follicles, an excess of fat in the body, an excess of pigmentation of the skin, high blood pressure to too much cholesterol. PCOS causes infertility in women because they do not ovulate and have insulin resistance.

Insulin is secreted by the pancreas in order to digest sugar and convert it to energy. Women with PCOS have insulin resistance, which means that despite the presence of insulin, sugar is not being digested properly. This results in the conversion of sugar to fat, obesity, a disturbed sugar metabolism, and anovulation (when your ovaries do not release an egg).

We are seeing more and more women with PCOS. Although PCOS tends to run in families, it can also be triggered by your lifestyle. In today's world we are all running instead of walking. We eat fast food enriched with sugary carbohydrates, are sleep deprived and don't exercise. This kind of a lifestyle has a significant impact on all of us, but more so on women with PCOS.

However there is good news! A little effort from you will increase your chances of having a baby. You need to exercise and lose weight. This will lessen your insulin resistance and change your metabolism so that there is better conversion of sugar into energy. Your doctor may suggest an insulin sensitizing agent called Metformin to control your sugar levels, make your menstrual cycles regular, help you to ovulate and also assist you in losing weight.

I have seen many women with PCOS conceive successfully by first losing weight and exercising. You should first try this before going for more advanced interventions.

Written for BabyCenter India,
Dr Firuza Parikh

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