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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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Sources
[1] https://www.emedicinehealth.com/what_are_the_chances_of_getting_pregnant_with_pcos/article_em.htm
[2] https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1179558119890867
[3] https://www.uptodate.com/contents/polycystic-ovary-syndrome-pcos-beyond-the-basics/print
[4] https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/11585-conception
[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7013239/
[6] https://www.rockymountainfertility.com/blog/can-ovarian-cysts-contribute-to-infertility
[7] https://www.dovepress.com/epidemiology-diagnosis-and-management-of-polycystic-ovary-syndrome-peer-reviewed-fulltext-article-CLEP
[8] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7789031/

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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