Can a woman with PCOS have a healthy pregnancy?

Health, according to the World Health Organization, is “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity”.[1] A variety of definitions have been used for different purposes over time. Health can be promoted by encouraging healthful activities, such as regular physical exercise and adequate sleep,[2] and by reducing or avoiding unhealthful activities or situations, such as smoking or excessive stress. Some factors affecting health are due to individual choices, such as whether to engage in a high-risk behavior, while others are due to structural causes, such as whether the society is arranged in a way that makes it easier or harder for people to get necessary healthcare services. Still other factors are beyond both individual and group choices, such as genetic disorders.

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A woman with a pregnancy and PCOS can face various health and emotional concerns. Let’s know it all from an expert.

PCOS stands for polycystic ovary syndrome, a hormonal disorder found in women of reproductive age. This syndrome causes enlargement of ovaries with cysts on the outer edges. Women affected by this condition produce male hormones more than usual or cause prolonged or infrequent menstrual cycles. The exact cause of this condition isn’t known yet, but it is believed that excess insulin, excess androgen, and heredity may influence the development of this condition.

PCOS and pregnancy

If a woman is diagnosed with this condition, it may be more difficult for her to conceive. This condition exposes you to an increased risk of complications in pregnancy, labour, and delivery. The risk of having a miscarriage is thrice the risk of women without PCOS having a miscarriage. Some women may not even know that they have PCOS until they start trying to conceive. This condition can go unnoticed and there is no one test to see if you have it or not, it’s a little more complex than that.

Things to keep in mind during pregnancy with PCOS

Conceiving with PCOS is only the first hurdle. There are many other concerns and complications that women need to keep in their minds to make sure they avoid any mishap.

Physical health and emotional needs of women with PCOS

1. Health concerns

Many women with PCOS are obese, and therefore at higher risks of developing pregnancy complications. Due to hormonal imbalance and being overweight, these women are at a higher risk of developing conditions like gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, macrosomia and preterm labour.

PCOS and pregnancy
Just switch to a healthier, plant-based diet to manage PCOS better. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Also, they have higher chances of being admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit. A proper and calculated intake of nutrients, especially carbohydrates are advised to avoid any kind of risks of developing gestational diabetes mellitus. To reduce the risk of preeclampsia, macrosomia, and preterm labour, intake of metformin is advised. Metformin is good for pregnant women who have PCOS as it improves pregnancy outcomes by helping with weight management, insulin resistance, and hyperinsulinemia.

2. Emotional concerns

Some women might become very cautious about what they eat, they might start cutting off carbohydrates excessively from their diet. For others, they might think that they’ve got a license to eat anything. Both situations don’t appear to be very healthy.

PCOS and pregnancy
PCOS can take a toll on your mental and emotional health. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Also, women suffering from anxiety or depression might experience an elevation in the same feelings and turn to food for support. Consuming food this way without appropriate monitoring might lead to excessive weight gain. Not only these, but it is very common for women to develop body image issues too, especially for someone who already has had them in the past. PCOS also causes women to carry their weight in the midsection, and hence the women might not ‘show’ until their third trimester, which might get the women to want to eat more to appear pregnant and get the same attention as the other pregnant women receive.

Not only for the health concerns but a professional’s help to regulate these emotions concern is also suggested as ultimately both of these have a direct or indirect effect on the women and their babies.

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