Getting pregnant can come with its own set of complications. Add in the health of the mother and/or baby and you have a case that requires more sensitivity. Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) has been reported to impact up to 12% of women in the United States. The PCOS Foundation finds that this number may be closer to 50% with the syndrome going underdiagnosed.

A hormonal disorder, the syndrome causes enlarged ovaries that commonly lead to the development of cysts on the outer edges. And, while cysts are not developed in every case, the impact of PCOS does tend to include complicating pregnancy. Here’s what we know about how it affects pregnancy and the best age to get pregnant with PCOS. 

What Is PCOS?

Much about PCOS remains a mystery although scientists have attributed the syndrome to both genetic and environmental factors. The diagnosis is achieved through a series of exams including blood tests and ultrasounds while the symptoms include excess hair growth, acne, irregular periods and weight gain. With women who are ovulating also experiencing all or some of these symptoms, it’s a struggle to confirm whether the syndrome is a factor.

Women who are pregnant also experience these symptoms, outside of irregular periods. PCOS complicates this by making it even harder for women to have full-term pregnancies. And despite the proof via recent pregnancy trends of women healthily and successfully conceiving at an older age, doctors have determined age is an important factor to consider when you have PCOS. 

How Does PCOS Affect Pregnancy?

There are other factors that can impact your PCOS symptoms and pregnancy journey. High insulin levels (or too much sugar in the blood) have been known to cause excess androgen development from the ovaries. Testosterone is an androgen which is known to cause irregularities in hair growth and skin texture. To curb these effects, doctors have recommended and prescribed supplements that do the exact opposite: balancing insulin levels, estrogen levels and promoting fertility. Those considering supplements will need to not only monitor their fertility window, but their weight. While obesity is not a result of PCOS, it has been known to impact fertility as have many other preexisting conditions. Research suggests that being overweight, and having PCOS, can lead to painful cramps, heavy bleeding and anovulation (the lack of ovulation). Not everyone who has PCOS is overweight nor are they exclusively impacted by infertility.  

In any case, doctors suggest eating plates that have a quarter of lean protein, a quarter of gentle starch with the last half being non-starchy veggies. They also recommend minimizing stress levels through meditation, walking and/or an exercise routine. 

At What Age Is It Best to Get Pregnant With PCOS?

It’s been said that conceiving after a certain age means an increased chance of experiencing complications in your delivery and the overall health of your child. However, well-supported moms of older ages have successfully given birth. Still, doctors are calling to attention the impact of PCOS on moms delivering after the age of 35.

Complications include gestational diabetes, preterm labor, and preeclampsia. Preeclampsia, a type of high blood pressure, has impacted everyday women and stars like Serena and Beyoncé. It’s a diagnosis that’s been on the rise in impacting women of color. Still, we’re learning more about it as cases develop. It’s been reported that IVF can increase the chances of a successful PCOS pregnancy. Regular checkups will help doctors to stay abreast of how your body is responding. 

However you decide to treat your PCOS, particularly during your pregnancy, we wish you a healthy and informed journey!