Most women with PCOS know that they can have some difficulty conceiving. Irregular periods and the absence of ovulation can make timed intercourse difficult to conceive and often lead a couple to seek help from a reproductive specialist.
But many women don’t know that having PCOS also increases their risk of certain pregnancy-related complications, like those covered here.
Rest assured, visiting your obstetrician regularly and following their advice on prenatal screening can help reduce your risk of developing these complications.
Understanding Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Women with PCOS appear to have a slightly higher risk of miscarriage, but the reasons for this relationship are unclear. The researchers believe that several factors may be to blame.
First, women with PCOS tend to have longer menstrual cycles, which means ovulation occurs later. This exposes the developing egg to a flood of hormones that can damage it.
Second, there is a known relationship between uncontrolled blood sugar and miscarriage. Given that women with PCOS tend to have insulin resistance and elevated insulin levels, some researchers have hypothesized that this may lead to poor egg quality and miscarriage.
High androgen levels and endometrial dysfunction, implying implantation problems, may also play a role in the increased risk of early miscarriage in women with PCOS. That said, more research is needed before a definitive association can be established.
Does your PCOS put you at higher risk of miscarriage?
gestational hypertension and preeclampsia
Gestational hypertension is defined as women with new-onset hypertension after 20 weeks. Preeclampsia is a serious health condition that develops in the second half of pregnancy and causes protein in the urine, in addition to high blood pressure.
If left untreated, preeclampsia can develop into a severe syndrome called eclampsia, which can lead to seizures, blindness, and/or coma. In severe cases, maternal and fetal death may occur.
Every time you visit your healthcare provider, they check your blood pressure and sometimes take a urine sample to look for protein in your urine. This is to make sure you don’t have preeclampsia.
If you’ve been diagnosed with preeclampsia, treatment may include bed rest, frequent monitoring, and sometimes medication to lower blood pressure. If your symptoms worsen, the only known treatment is childbirth. The goal is to keep the baby as long as possible during pregnancy so that the lungs have a chance to develop.
Women with PCOS may be at greater risk for high blood pressure. If you are determined to be at high risk, your healthcare provider may recommend low-dose aspirin (81 mg/day) starting at 12 weeks of pregnancy to help prevent preeclampsia and its associated complications.
It is also important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of gestational hypertension and preeclampsia (swelling, rapid weight gain, severe headache, vision changes) and report them promptly to your healthcare provider, or to the emergency room if necessary.
Hypertension and PCOS
Gestational diabetes occurs when diabetes (a change in the way the body processes sugar) occurs during pregnancy. Although the condition usually resolves after childbirth, women with gestational diabetes are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes later in life and require continuous monitoring of blood sugar levels.
Monitor all pregnant women for gestational diabetes with routine blood glucose screening sometime between 26 and 28 weeks. Women with known diabetes, insulin resistance, or a higher risk of developing gestational diabetes may be screened earlier.
Women over the age of 25, who have had gestational diabetes, are overweight, have prediabetes, or have a close relative who has been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes are at greater risk of developing gestational diabetes. Women with PCOS belong to this group due to their association with insulin resistance and prediabetes.
If necessary, gestational diabetes can be treated with lifestyle changes or medication. It’s important to monitor your blood sugar as directed by your healthcare provider because babies born to mothers with gestational diabetes are at higher risk for high birth weight, preterm birth, respiratory problems at birth, low blood sugar, and jaundice.
Symptoms and Screening for Insulin Resistance in PCOS
Women with PCOS are also at risk for preterm labor. The reason behind this is also not entirely clear. Experts do know that preeclampsia is a risk factor for preterm birth, and women with PCOS have a higher risk of developing preeclampsia.
In addition, experts found that babies born to mothers with PCOS were more likely to be larger (called large for gestational age), have meconium aspiration (when the baby’s first stool enters the lungs), and have a higher Apgar score. low for 5 minutes.
Some of these complications may sound scary, but there are many things you can do to help reduce your risk.
First and foremost, get regular prenatal care early in your pregnancy. Better yet, talk to your healthcare provider before trying to conceive so you can discuss specific lifestyle strategies to reduce your risk.
For example, discuss an exercise regimen with your healthcare provider and refer to a dietitian if you are having difficulty developing healthy eating habits.