Medically reviewed on January 3, 2023 by Jordan Stachel, MS, RDN, CPT. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.
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Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal imbalance condition that impacts 6–12% of women and people assigned female at birth (AFAB) . PCOS patients tend to produce excess androgen, a male hormone. There are many PCOS symptoms, however, one of the most notable symptoms of PCOS is menstrual irregularities, which can be a sign of anovulatory infertility .
So, can you get pregnant with PCOS? Yes—while PCOS can affect female fertility, many people with PCOS still get pregnant. Sometimes, it just takes a few lifestyle changes or medications to make it happen.
Below, we’ll explain how PCOS can affect fertility and the pregnancy journey.
Getting pregnant when you have PCOS may be more difficult. That’s because you may not ovulate as often as other people.
The average menstrual cycle in people without PCOS is 28 days —in people with PCOS, it’s 35 days or more . As a result of the irregular menstrual cycle, people with PCOS may only experience six to eight periods each year, if any at all.
This then leads to irregular ovulation. Ovulating less frequently reduces the number of chances you have to get pregnant throughout the year. While it’s still possible to get pregnant under these conditions, it may take more time.
While getting pregnant with PCOS can be challenging, there are many steps you can take to improve your chances, such as the following.
Between 38% and 88% of people with PCOS are overweight . Being overweight can exacerbate the symptoms of PCOS and may make it more difficult to conceive.
Fortunately, losing just 5% of your body weight may improve your fertility . Weight loss can also potentially enhance the effectiveness of any fertility treatment you pursue, depending on your specific medical conditions.
If you want to reach a healthy weight, you can do so through a combination of exercise and eating a balanced diet.
If diet and exercise don’t work on their own, your healthcare provider may suggest taking fertility medications to regulate ovulation. Some of these ovulation induction medications may include:
Improving chances of pregnancy with PCOS can also involve reproductive medicine, such as IVF. During IVF treatment, your healthcare provider or fertility specialist uses injections to stimulate your ovaries to produce mature eggs. They can then retrieve these eggs from your ovaries and fertilize them outside of your body. Once the eggs are fertilized, one or more is placed into your uterus, which will hopefully lead to a successful pregnancy. IVF treatment can be time-consuming and expensive, so it’s best used as a last resort.
The time it takes to get pregnant with PCOS can vary. You may get pregnant naturally within a year if you’re still ovulating.
If you take medication for ovulation induction, you can get pregnant quite quickly too. Studies have shown that 75–80% of people ovulate after taking clomiphene citrate and have an average conception rate of 22% per cycle .
If you use the IVF fertility treatment option, your chances of getting pregnant with PCOS can be as high as 50% . Just keep in mind that being over the age of 35 or being obese may lower these chances.
Once you get pregnant, having PCOS can cause some complications. Pregnant people with PCOS are at a higher risk of having :
Due to these risks, it's important to have your healthcare provider monitor your PCOS symptoms carefully throughout your pregnancy.
While PCOS can make your pregnancy journey a little more complex, there’s still a good chance that you can conceive if you take the right steps.
One of the first steps you can take is to check your fertility hormone levels. You can do so with ease with an Everlywell at-home hormone test. Our at-home Women’s Hormone Level Test can check 11 important biomarkers, including:
Once you receive your Everlywell test, all you have to do is collect your blood and saliva samples at home and send them to us. We’ll test your samples at a CLIA-certified lab. After your results are reviewed by an independent board-certified physician, we can share them with you securely so you can pass them on to your healthcare provider. It’s that easy.