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Guest Post: Getting Pregnant with PCOS

admin January 27, 2012

Many of you have requested information about hormonal imbalances, fertility, and other women’s health issues.  I’ve asked Aimee, who practices Chinese medicine and works in women’s health, to share a series of articles with you.  This is the first one — getting pregnant with PCOS.  Aimee has an excellent success rate — 100% so far!  Thanks for sharing, Aimee!

By Aimee Raupp, MS, LAc, Guest Writer

Dealing with fertility as much as I do in my Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practice—I see patients with PCOS quite often.  Currently, it is estimated that 10% of women between the ages of 18 and 40 have this condition often characterized by hormonal imbalances, multiple ovarian cysts, and an irregular menstrual cycle.  Generally speaking, PCOS women have too many androgens (male hormones) circulating in their body in conjunction with an imbalance of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone.   One thing you need to know if you have been diagnosed with PCOS: PCOS is NOT a disease, it is a hormonal imbalance condition and it is reversible.

Clinically there appears two different types of PCOS—the insulin-dependent type and the non-insulin dependent type.  The first is the “classic” PCOS presentation: weight gain, acne, facial hair and hair loss on the scalp.  The PCOS type that is not insulin dependent usually presents as being fairly thin and “wiry” as we would say in TCM terms.  Although this is a generalization of the two types of PCOS, typically this is what I see in my clinic.

Upon ultrasound (one of the diagnostic tests completed to confirm PCOS) not all women will show with ovarian cysts.  To accurately diagnose PCOS a blood test must look at FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone), LH (luteinizing hormone), fasting glucose and insulin as well as testosterone and estrogen levels.  I also recommend these patients have a blood serum thyroid panel taken as this can be a cause of PCOS in some patients.  Typically all PCOS patients (insulin dependent and non-insulin dependent) will have high testosterone levels and an LH to FSH ratio of 1:1.  The insulin-dependent types will have high fasting glucose levels and the non-insulin dependent types will have a normal glucose level.

Fertility Diet

Okay, so medical specifics out of the way, let’s talk about how best to get pregnant if you have PCOS.

One of the most important things to do is to clean up your diet.  By this I mean, eating foods that are organic and pesticide free.  Pesticides have what are called xeno-estrogens and can cause and or exacerbate any hormonal imbalance in your body.  As well, you must consume organic, grass fed and hormone free animal products.  The conventional (non-organic) farm animal is pumped up with hormones and PCOS women don’t need any more hormones in their bodies.

Eliminating any processed white flour and sugar is also imperative—not just for the insulin-dependent types, as white flour and sugar increase circulating testosterone levels in the body and will worsen the PCOS condition.

Lastly, you must remove all soy from your diet.  Soy foods not only are highly processed and toxic but are also estrogenic and will further disrupt any hormonal imbalance.  With some patients, I even go so far as to remove gluten and dairy from their diet as both of these foods are very inflammatory and can exacerbate the PCOS condition.

As well, recent studies have also shown a link between BPA (bisphenol A) exposure and increased incidence of PCOS as BPA has estrogenic properties.  So watch your BPA exposure.

Image by acidpix

Additional Fertility Help

In addition to dietary changes and weight loss (if needed), I treat my patients with acupuncture to encourage ovulation.  As long as you ovulate and attempt to conceive the right time—you can get pregnant.  For PCOS women timing is tricky as menstrual cycles can be long and erratic.  Often, I’ll have patients use a basal body temperature chart to help us “catch” ovulation as the store bought ovulation predictor kits don’t always work for PCOS patients (due to their imbalanced hormone levels).

Scientific studies have shown that acupuncture plus electrical stimulation can help induce ovulation in PCOS patients and I see that as well in my clinic.

Most all my fertility patients, PCOS ones included, get prescribed individual Chinese herbal prescriptions to help regulate their hormone levels and menstrual cycles.  There is no one specific herb I can recommend here as each case is different.  See a NCCAOM certified Chinese herbalist for your case.

Lastly, most all PCOS patients show up with vitamin D deficiency.  So, get some vitamin d daily—the best is through 10 minutes of unprotected sun exposure daily.  Second best is through taking a daily dose of cod liver oil (high in omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin d and vitamin a). Typical dosage is 2 capsules/day of cod liver oil (which gives you about 3,000-5,000 IU’s of vitamin D).

Getting Pregnant with PCOS-2

Final Thoughts

To sum up—the best way to ensure pregnancy when suffering from PCOS:

  1. Clean up your diet: No sugar, no soy, no white flour.  Eat only organic, grass-fed and hormone free animal products. Focus on avoiding all environmental hormones.
  2. Lose weight if necessary
  3. Track your BBT daily to pinpoint ovulation
  4. Get acupuncture to help induce ovulation
  5. Get a healthy dose of vitamin D daily

And, most importantly, stay optimistic. I’ve never had a PCOS patient not get pregnant in my clinic. You WILL get pregnant!

Do you suffer from PCOS?  If you’ve successfully gotten pregnant, what has worked for you?

 

 

Aimee Raupp – acupuncturist, herbalist and author of Chill Out & Get Healthy (Penguin) – practices  Traditional Oriental Medicine to help her patients reclaim their health and prevent disease. An active public speaker, Aimee practices in Manhattan and Nyack, NY and is writing a book about fertility. For more information, visit www.AimeeRaupp.com.

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23 Comments

  1. THANK YOU!!! Thank you so much for the post. I have PCOS and my husband and I have been trying to get pregnant for over a year. Thankfully I am only 23 so I have my age on my side, but I have been feeling quite discouraged lately. I truly appreciate all the advice in this post! God always has perfect timing 🙂

    Reply

  2. This post is a GOD SEND!!! I was diagnosed with PCOS in 2006. My husband and I went to a fertility clinic and I was diagnosed there. I did end up getting pregnant after 4 fertility treatments. My son is now 4, soon to be 5. We would like another child, BUT I don’t want to be poked & prodded and made to feel like a guinea pig again. I’m going to be 40 this year, but I do know that is still young enough to have another child. We are going to try without any treatments and if we are meant to get pregnant again than so be it, but if we are meant to adopt, then so be it as well. There are plenty of children that need good homes here in the United States and all over the world. Thank you SO much for this post. This is a very common problem but not talked about.

    Reply

  3. What does PCOS stand for?

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  4. I’m a success story! I was diagnosed with PCOS at age 20. I had many symptoms, tests by my endocrinologist confirmed. She put me on birth control to restart my periods and spironolactone. Symptoms got somewhat better. At age 24 I moved to Switzerland. Without realizing it, my diet shifted pretty radically. Looking back I can see that

    1. Soy and corn consumption was greatly reduced (grass-fed animals are very common) I wasn’t eating soy powders or diet food anymore.
    2. I added a lot off raw cheese and quality eggs to my diet
    3. Dramatically reduced sunscreen usage

    4. Sugar cravings were less probably because of all the cheese
    5. Exercised more in the great outdoors–hiking in Switzerland, yes please!

    One year later I was feeling so great that I decided to ditch the meds. Intuitively I felt like they were not the solution. Fast forward one more year–I got married. I explained to my fiancé that we might have trouble conceiving because of my condition. Guess what? I got pregnant on my honeymoon! Second pregnancy came 2 years later. I

    I was not actively trying to heal my Pcos, but looking back I can see that the inadvertent lifestyle changes that I made probably led to easy conception. I hope that my story might encourage someone to try out the great advice in this post. I also want to add that saturated fat and cholesterol are very important for balancing hormones.

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  5. I used to be a horrible vegetarian (meaning I ate mostly sugar and carbs and didn’t even try to get a good amount of protein) and I also focused on low fat or fat free everything. After being on birth control for 2 ½ years, my husband and I decided to do Natural Family Planning instead. When I didn’t have a cycle for 4 months, I knew something was wrong and was diagnosed with PCOS (through diagnostic FSH and LH hormone ratio levels and cysts on my ovaries) . It was recommended that I go back on birth control until I wanted to conceive and then go on a whole slew of other medications to make it all work. This was the exact reason I did not want to be on birth control to begin with! So I looked to the Couple to Couple League (whom we had taken an NFP class from) for advice and they provided information and pointed to the Weston A. Price foundation. So my husband and I both started changing our diets. We joined our local CSA, I slowly started eating more protein sources (beans, nuts, chicken and fish) and focused more on healthy fats and whole, reals foods instead of highly processed items. lots of vitamin and healthy fats from pastured eggs, etc. After maybe 2 months I had a cycle! Becoming more consistent in eating healthier led to a more consistent cycle. After about a year of these changes we decided to try to conceive and were successful the first month! It can be done, I just had to find the right support and be discerning with the information the doctor gave me initially.

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  6. Very inspiring. Recently diagnosed with PCOS, and changing the way I am living my life.

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  7. Great article! I was wondering though… about the sugar. Are you meaning sugar all the way or are you meaning you need to go to raw sugar/ honey? I’m just thinking about my bread making. I want to clean up my diet, but I can only do it a little bit at a time with the budget I’m allowed. Thank you for any information!

    Reply

    • Hi Stephanie, ideally, people wouldn’t eat any sugar. 🙂 But that’s not realistic for most long-term, so sticking to natural sugars when you do have a treat is a good idea. Sucanat, maple syrup, and honey are all good.

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      • Thank you for the information Kate. Sorry it took a while to reply… it’s been a busy week. Now I can adjust my cooking. 😀

        Reply

  8. I’m happy to say that I am a success story and getting pregnant was as simple, and yet, as trying, as making these changes in my life. In 2008 I noticed changes in my body that led me to believe my hormones were imbalanced. Several months later all of my tests were completed and I was diagnosed with PCOS. I was devastated but after I took some time to grieve I decided I wasn’t going to give up on being a mom that easily. Looking back, had I been more informed (although, I had no reason to be since I didn’t suspect anything then) I’d have realized almost the exact moment my body lost control of itself. I’m a researcher by nature and I’ve never been a big supporter of modern medicine. I resisted fertility treatments for two and a half years, making small changes to my life and working my butt off to lose weight. Still, despite my best efforts, nothing worked. My life was naturally progressing in a way that made me desire more and more to be a mom and so I finally gave in to fertility treatments. I wasn’t willing to go to extremes; there were no injections, no extractions, no implantations; however, I did try oral fertility drugs and it was enough to make me feel like a lunatic. After 6 months of pills I decided that enough was enough. There wasn’t so much as a false positive or early miscarriage let alone a viable pregnancy. I took another year on my own to come off the stress of fertility treatments and TTC, making more lifestyle changes, and making important personal decisions about my life that lead to an extreme reduction in stress. I more or less ended up combining Weight Watchers with WAPF. That seems totally contradictory to most people, I know, but I used the points system to help me naturally choose foods that nourished my body while cutting back or eliminating most major sources of carbs that were perpetuating my hormonal imbalance by causing an imbalance in my blood sugar and insulin levels. When I checked off my ‘healthy fats’ for the day I didn’t consider them to be the same as WW. I checked off my fats for things like egg yolks from local pastured eggs, home rendered lard from local pastured pigs, tablespoons of organic extra virgin coconut oil, and lots and lots of butter! From WAPF I focused on lots of “healthy” protein and lots of saturated fat to help my body heal itself. I exercised some, but after ready through and testing myself with the book The Infertility Cure by Randine Lewis, I realized I was demanding too much of my body physically and that to fully heal I needed to nourish and rest my body. I ended up losing 41.3 lbs and after four months of a regular cycle I became pregnant. Almost a year before, I had come to the realization that while I was meant to be a mother, I would never know the blessing of carrying one of my children in my womb. I had been tracking my menstrual cycle for years by this point and knew that sometimes when I was late it was just the hope that something could be there holding my period up. I circumvented delayed starts for my period by taking a pregnancy to know for certain that I wasn’t pregnant and like a light switch I would start immediately, sometimes within hours of taking a negative test. One morning I became extremely frustrated that I had gone 4 months and here I was late again. I went into the bathroom to take my test and stood up to throw it in the trash and wash my hands when much to my surprise the test said “positive”. I literally couldn’t believe my eyes. I took a picture of it just so I’d believe it later. The next morning I took another test and fully expected it to say “not pregnant” but sure enough it said “positive”. For weeks I kept looking at the picture because I was so early I had almost no symptoms of pregnancy and couldn’t believe it actually happened for me. Those 4 years I never used any method of birth control. There were times I was actively trying and there were times that while I wasn’t trying, I wasn’t trying not to get pregnant either. Those were 4 of the toughest and hardest years of my life but I can happily say all the tears, the let downs, and the heart ache were worth it. I’m not saying its going to happen for everyone; sometimes God really does have something different planned for us. However, I’m happy to say that you should never lose hope because sometimes we’re just waiting on God’s timing.

    Reply

  9. Thanks for the information. I was diagnosed with PCOS a couple years ago when I wasn’t trying to get pregnant; I chose to ignore the information (I thought it was unnecessary concern at the time, I guess). About a year late, when my husband and I decided to start trying, we got pregnant on the first try. Unfortunately, this ended in a miscarriage around week 8. We are now in the stages of trying again. I have changed my diet quite a bit, I’m getting acupuncture with a doctor who also recently recommended some chinese herbs I have started on. I have started charting my cycle and realized this month that I didn’t ovulate until day 22–luteal phase defect. I think this often goes hand in hand with PCOS, right? And can often lead to early miscarriage? My concern, more than getting pregnant, is going through another miscarriage. That was and is so awful to deal with. Should I wait until my temperature charting is more normal before we TTC? And are there any statistics on the rates of miscarriage with these conditions? Anything else recommended to prevent miscarriage? Thanks again, looking forward to any suggestions.

    Reply

  10. I was borderline PCOS, no cysts and ‘normal-high’ levels of the rest. We experienced 2 years where I did not visibly cycle once although an ultrasound confirmed that I was indeed ovulating somewhat and did not have any cysts. We gave our fertility to God in a prayer after listening to a radio program featuring the authors of “Start Your Family Now” (sorry forgot their names) and the next month we were pregnant. I was not counseled on WHAT PCOS was nor that it was reversible by my regular Dr. Our first daughter was induced 5 weeks early b/c of PE. After she was born I took drastic measures and cleaned up our diet, closed my stressful business, and lost weight by eating less and trying to exercise. My health has never been better. We sought a local farmer for organic pasture-only milk (raw), beef, chicken, eggs, cheese, and yogurt. We learned to put our health first and budget accordingly. We found our farmer through http://www.localharvest.org. They are in PA, http://www.yourfamilycow.com

    Reply

  11. Im surely taking those tips.

    Reply

  12. I would really like to ask you some questions like im in the process of dieting and exercise to lose weight i cut soda bread rice candy juice and pork what would be specific foods to eat my husband and i have been trying to conceive for 4 yrs now as i know im overweight also i havent had a cycle for a year now help please

    Reply

  13. Thanks so much for putting the word out about this! I found similar information about a year and a half ago after I was diagnosed with PCOS and immediately changed my diet and exercise routine. After about a year of sticking with it, I got pregnant without being on Clomid OR metformin (I had tried both for about 6 months!!)! We are expecting our first child in April of 2014! Don’t lose hope!

    Reply

  14. I was diagnosed with PCOS when I was 21… I had bad acne which wasn’t never a struggle for me in my teens and (embarassing) facial hair so I went to the doctor. Thru more questioning and testing I was diagnosed with PCOS and very discouraged. Especially when the only solution I was given was either going on the pill or diabetic meds + some form of hormone. It was a busy and stressful year of university so I conceded and went on the pill and HATED it!!! As soon as I graduated it was my upmost priority to get off the pill with the help of a naturopath 🙂 I was having a regular cycle and felt great! I met my husband (to be) when I was 25 around the same time a friend told me about the book”Taking Charge of your Fertility” by Weschler. Thru the steps in the book (and those described in another post) I recorded myself ovulating every single month! Praise the Lord 🙂 Anyway we were married fall 2011 and conceived our first with no hiccups or help with hormones, etc needed! Our boy is now 6months and a wonderful blessing in our life.

    Reply

  15. My partner and I have been trying for a baby for over two years now, We were going to a fertility clinic for about 5 months before somebody told us to contact this spell caster who is so powerful, We contacted him at this email;[email protected] , for him to help us, then we told him our problem, he told us that she we either conceive in January 2013 or February 2013,but after two years of trying we were at a point where we were willing to try anything. And I’m glad we came to Dr.BABA Because he predictions put us at ease, and I honestly believe him, and his gods really helped us as well, I am thankful for all he has done. contact him via email: ;[email protected] if you are trying to get a baby or want your lover back. he has powers to do it, he has done mine.

    Reply

  16. Am more than happy to share my testimonies here i was married for five years no issue and as a result of this i was almost loosing my husband due to this predicament i tried all the medicine that i could lay my hands on but still no result and our family doctor kept saying that my husband and i where both fine the problem continued until a month ago when i was chatting with a friend online and i confided in her the problem i was facing and she spoke to me about a certain man she knows called Dr. Ogbefun that he is a renown powerful man who can help solve this my childlessness i had no choice i demanded for his address after much persuasion from my friend and contacted him through his email [email protected] and i explained the situation to him after which he told me what needed to be done and we both followed accordingly to my greatest surprise one week after the cleansing exercise i did it with my husband and i am smiling posting this because i am pregnant and my husband love me has greatly increased all thanks to Dr. Ogbefun also email him on [email protected] or call him on +2347060552255 he is a savior

    Reply

  17. Thank you for sharing your story and your wonderful blog! I was diagnosed with PCOS when I was 30 yo. I spent years in treatments and medications. I really hoped they will help… I wish I knew all that was useless. I wouldn’t waste so much time and money for all that. But what can we do… There is no chance to know everything for sure. I don’t know what would I’ve done without my husband. He was supporting me and comforting me at those period of time. It was so hard to get back to some actions towards our goal to have children. I wasn’t getting younger and I needed to make some decisions asap. So ivf with donor egg was my only chance to have children. It was difficult to accept a thought I will carry baby from donor egg. I was afraid at first. It wasn’t easy not to think about all those ‘what ifs’ questions. But it was my only chance and I decided to use it. I underwent this procedure in Ukrainian clinic biotexcom. I was 46 years old. I asked the clinic to find donor, which looks like me. I’ve just gave my doctor a list with some features, which I would like my egg donor to have. Yes, I admit, even after going to the clinic and signing a contract I had some doubts. I had no idea how I will feel about a baby. It was impossible to turn off my mind. But as soon as I knew I was pregnant everything had changed. We were so happy and the only thing which mattered was health of our babies! After that moment I’ve never considered my children as not mine or that they are from some other woman. They are my babies no matter what. I gave birth to two wonderful kids, Daniel and Denis. Everybody tell they look like us! No one ever guess we went through this procedure. I’ve never regret about my decision. I have no idea how would I live without my precious kids.

    Reply

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I’m Kate, mama to 5 and wife to Ben.  I love meeting new people and hearing their stories.  I’m also a big fan of “fancy” drinks (anything but plain water counts as ‘fancy’ in my world!) and I can’t stop myself from DIY-ing everything.  I sure hope you’ll stick around so I can get to know you better!

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