Infertility - PCOS
This information is not meant to diagnose or prescribe. Please seek appropriate advice from your health-care provider.
Getting pregnant is easy, right?
Everyone thinks it should be. After all, all it takes is a man and a woman, a little physical intimacy, and voilá – a positive pregnancy test is the result, right?
Only that’s not how it really happens for many couples and maybe that’s not how it is for you, either.
Subfertility vs Infertility
Subfertility is the diagnosis when it takes more than six menstrual cycles of unprotected intercourse to conceive.
Infertility is defined as a couple being unable to conceive after 12 months of unprotected intercourse, or having two or more consecutive miscarriages.
Subfertility and infertility are on the rise. Infertility alone has increased from 5.4% in 1984 to over 15% currently.
Approximately seven percent of all infertility is solely attributable to the male partner, 37 percent to the female, and 35 percent to both, with 21 percent unexplained.1
Among the most common causes of female infertility are polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, uterine fibroids, structural problems of the reproductive system, implantation failure after conception, primary ovarian failure, and autoimmune disorders.
Can a Couple Enhance Their Fertility Using Natural Means?
The answer is - very possibly.
Specifically, up to 12% of all reproductive-age women have PCOS. And the good news is that there are many natural options that have been clinically and scientifically proven to help enhance fertility, as well as the woman’s overall health, in cases of confirmed PCOS.
What is PCOS?
PCOS is often a part of Metabolic Syndrome. Metabolic Syndrome centers around insulin resistance (type 2 diabetes). Currently, metabolic syndrome affects nearly 50% of all women in their childbearing years.2
Metabolic Syndrome includes these symptoms in women: waist measurement larger than 88 cm (35 inches), elevated blood sugars, elevated fasting glucose, elevated blood pressure, elevated serum triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol.3
The most obvious symptom of PCOS is having fewer than nine menstrual cycles per year. Weight gain or excess weight that just won’t come off, acne, and excess facial hair are also common symptoms.
A pelvic ultrasound in a woman who has PCOS will reveal ovaries that have many partially mature follicles (eggs) that seem to be stuck in the process. This confuses the hormones and delays ovulation until one of them gets unstuck.
What Does Insulin Resistance (Type 2 Diabetes) Have to do With This?
When the diet is high in carbohydrates (breads, pastas, baked goods, candy, soda pop, alcohol, most fruit), the insulin spikes to handle the carbs. This spike decreases the amount of Sex Hormone Binding Globulin, whose job it is to bind up testosterone. This allows the testosterone to increase, which inhibits the effects of estrogens. Ovulation and implantation need the right balance of estrogens, progesterone, and testosterone.
What can be done?
If you want to get pregnant, but have menstrual cycles that are longer than 45 days, talk to your doctor and ask to be tested for PCOS. Research suggests that cycles that are too short or too long are less fertile, so the goal is to balance the cycles out to between 26 and 34 days.4
Tests requested for fertility assessment usually involve blood work (estradiol, luteinizing hormone, follicle-stimulating hormone, progesterone, testosterone, thyroid-stimulating hormone, Free T4, Free T3, glucose and others) and a pelvic ultrasound. Holistically, tracking and recording the Basal Body Temperature can also provide valuable information. It’s good to know what you’re working with and to have baseline testing done.
If your test results suggest that PCOS is a problem, most family doctors will offer medications like clomid to aid in ovulation and/or metformin to stabilize your blood sugars. Neither of these really address the problem.
Your holistic health care provider may be able to guide you back to balanced hormones and improved fertility by using herbs, vitamins and minerals, diet, and lifestyle.
Successfully addressing PCOS is a multi-faceted process that always includes dietary work and often includes specifically-chosen vitamins, minerals, other supplements, and lifestyle changes. It's most effective if each woman’s program is developed specifically for her.
If you would like personalized support in working through PCOS in an effort to improve your health and fertility, use this link to schedule an appointment to work with Judith Cobb.
- 2013 - Journal of Fertility and Sterility