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Tips to manage PCOS and pregnancy | Health

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is a common endocrine disorder that affects many women of reproductive age and while managing pregnancy with PCOS can be challenging, with proper care and attention and monitoring, it is possible to have a healthy pregnancy. By working closely with your healthcare team, making lifestyle changes and following their guidance, you can increase your chances of a successful pregnancy and reduce the risks associated with PCOS.

Tips to manage PCOS and pregnancy (Photo by Suhyeon Choi on Unsplash)

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Pooja Choudhary, Senior Consultant (Obstetrician and Gynecologist) at Apollo Cradle and Children’s Hospital in New Delhi’s Chirag Enclave, asserted that every woman’s experience with PCOS is unique, so personalised care is essential to achieve the best outcomes for you and your baby. She suggested the following things to keep in mind which helps to manage PCOS and Pregnancy –

  • Preconception planning: Before attempting to conceive, it is essential to consult with a healthcare provider to create a personalized plan for managing PCOS during pregnancy. They can assess your specific condition and provide guidance on lifestyle changes and treatments that can help optimize your fertility and reduce the risk of complications.
  • Weight management: Many women with PCOS struggle with weight management, which can affect fertility and pregnancy outcomes. Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight can improve your chances of getting pregnant and reduce the risk of complications during pregnancy.
  • Medication and treatment: Your healthcare provider may prescribe medications to manage PCOS symptoms and improve your chances of conceiving. Common medications for PCOS include metformin to regulate insulin levels, and clomiphene or letrozole to induce ovulation. These medications can be used in combination with lifestyle changes to increase the likelihood of a successful pregnancy.
  • Monitoring and tracking your cycles: Women with PCOS often have irregular menstrual cycles. Tracking your menstrual cycle, monitoring ovulation, and using ovulation predictor kits can help you identify your most fertile days, improving your chances of conceiving.
  • Blood sugar control: Women with PCOS are at an increased risk of gestational diabetes, a condition that can develop during pregnancy. It is important to monitor your blood sugar levels throughout pregnancy. A well-balanced diet, regular physical activity, and, if necessary, insulin or medication, can help manage gestational diabetes and reduce the associated risks.

Echoing that Polycystic Ovary Syndrome can complicate the journey to pregnancy but with strategic medical interventions, many women can overcome these challenges, Dr Manju Sinha, Senior Gynecologist at Prayag Hospitals Group, said, “A comprehensive approach, often advocated by medical professionals, includes lifestyle modifications tailored to each patient’s needs. These modifications encompass adopting a balanced diet rich in nutrients, regular physical activity to manage weight, and stress-reduction techniques like yoga or meditation, which can collectively enhance insulin sensitivity and regulate menstrual cycles. In addition to lifestyle changes, medications play a crucial role in managing PCOS. Metformin, an insulin-sensitising drug, is commonly prescribed to address insulin resistance, a common feature of PCOS.”

For women struggling with irregular ovulation, she advised, “Medications like clomiphene citrate may be recommended to stimulate egg production and increase the chances of conception. Regular monitoring through blood tests and ultrasounds is imperative. Hormone levels and follicular development are closely tracked, enabling healthcare providers to fine-tune the treatment plan as necessary, ensuring optimal outcomes. When conventional treatments prove insufficient, assisted reproductive technologies such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) offer viable alternatives. IVF involves fertilizing eggs with sperm outside the body and implanting the embryo into the uterus, bypassing some of the challenges associated with PCOS-related infertility.”

She added, “Emotional support is paramount throughout this journey. PCOS and fertility struggles can be emotionally draining, and counseling services provide essential coping mechanisms and psychological assistance to patients and their partners. During pregnancy, close monitoring is essential to manage potential complications such as gestational diabetes and preeclampsia, both of which women with PCOS are at a higher risk of developing. Medical professionals work in tandem with their patients, customizing treatment plans and offering unwavering support, thus empowering women with PCOS to navigate the complexities of pregnancy and childbirth successfully.”

Managing pregnancy for women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) who have already conceived requires vigilant care and support. Dr Manju Sinha recommended, “Regular prenatal check-ups with obstetricians who have experience in handling high-risk pregnancies are essential. These professionals can closely monitor the mother’s health and the baby’s development, ensuring early detection and management of any complications. Additionally, maintaining a balanced and nutritious diet is crucial to manage the increased risk of gestational diabetes often associated with PCOS. Healthcare providers may recommend a specific meal plan to regulate blood sugar levels. Regular exercise, as approved by the healthcare team, can help manage weight gain and maintain overall health during pregnancy.”

Given that women with PCOS are at a higher risk of developing pregnancy-related conditions like preeclampsia, Dr Manju Sinha said, “Regular blood pressure monitoring and early detection of symptoms are vital. In some cases, healthcare providers might suggest low-dose aspirin to mitigate the risk of preeclampsia. Emotional well-being is equally important. Pregnancy can be stressful, especially for those with PCOS who might have faced challenges in conception. Support groups, counseling, and open communication with healthcare providers can provide the necessary emotional support and alleviate anxiety. Ultimately, a collaborative approach between the patient, healthcare providers, and support networks is key. By closely managing health, nutrition, exercise, and emotional well-being, women with PCOS can have successful pregnancies, delivering healthy babies while ensuring their own well-being.”

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