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70% of individuals with PCOS have difficultly conceiving[1],[2] and for those that do successfully conceive it may take longer than individuals without PCOS.[3]

In this article we explore the link between PCOS and conception, the process through which the sperm and egg join together.[4]

PCOS can interfere with conception in a number of distinct ways:

  • Anovulation, the failure to release an eggs from one of the ovaries making it available for fertilization, is a common feature of PCOS;

  • Irregular periods make it difficult to predict when ovulation or the fertile window occurs and individuals may have less cycles in any given period to attempt conception;

  • Ovarian cysts that build up and interfere with the hormonal balance required for ovulation[5] or damage to the ovaries as a result of treatments to remove large cysts;[6]

  • Depression, anxiety and/or low self-esteem may make it difficult to engage in sexual activity timed around ovulation; and

  • Poor prior experience with clinical care can be a barrier to seeking fertility support in a timely manner.

PCOS can also present additional risks on having a healthy pregnancy and bringing the pregnancy to full term; for example:

  • Women with PCOS who become pregnant are at higher risk than those without PCOS of developing gestational diabetes mellitus or suffering a first-trimester spontaneous abortion;[7] and

  • PCOS is associated with an increase in subfertility, ectopic pregnancy and early pregnancy loss (EPL).[8]

Reviewed by Sandra Multiva PhD, EMBA, CHE, CRM, BHSc RM(Ret)


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Want to learn more about fertility issues and PCOS?  Check out our articles on anovulation, irregular periods and assisted reproductive technology.

Complications – Reproductive

PCOS and Trying to Conceive (TTC)

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