If you've ever tried to conceive, you've probably experienced your share of anticipation, frustration, and disappointment. In short, the entire process can really mess with your mind. For people with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), however, the process of getting pregnant can be even more intense, involved, and heartbreaking. It's natural to wonder if you can get pregnant with PCOS, and what exactly it will take for you to conceive.
The answer, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecology (ACOG), is a solid "maybe," and treatments are not one-size-fits-all. While PCOS is the main cause of infertility in people with uteruses, the condition is not fully understood. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine explains that it's associated with an overproduction of male hormones, resulting in symptoms like acne, excess body hair, suppressed ovulation, and fluid filled sacs in your ovaries. And according to the PCOS Awareness Association, PCOS can interfere with other hormones, too, like insulin, causing weight gain and an increase in male hormones, and progesterone, which can cause irregular periods. Essentially, people with PCOS can experience an endless, self-perpetuating cycle of irregular periods, ovulation issues, infertility, and difficulty staying pregnant, along with other symptoms.
Worse, while PCOS impacts over 10 million people, medical science hasn't produced any effective treatments for it. While hormonal birth control can be effective, that doesn't really help if you are trying to conceive. And since ACOG reports that over 80 percent of people with PCOS are obese, health care providers often recommend weight loss as the first line of treatment, which might help but is easier said than done. According to Mayo Clinic, PCOS treatment options for people who are trying to conceive include progesterone to help you ovulate, medications for insulin resistance like Metformin, and fertility medications like Clomiphene (Brand name: Clomid), Letrozole (Brand: Femara), and Gonadotropins.
While it seems like the deck is stacked against people with PCOS who hope to get pregnant, with the right treatment many are able to conceive. Others rely on reproductive technology like intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in vitro fertilization (IVF) to get pregnant. Romper spoke with six moms with PCOS to find out about what trying to conceive with PCOS is like. Here are their stories: