Polycystic ovarian syndrome, or PCOS, is the most common endocrinopathy among women of reproductive age. In this condition, the ovaries produce higher than normal levels of male hormones which in turn can affect a woman’s menstrual cycle, fertility, and appearance. The symptoms are irregular periods, weight gain, hirsutism(excessive hair growth), acne, infertility(inability to conceive) and cysts on the ovaries. Sometimes women with PCOS struggle to conceive. However, fortunately, with infertility treatment and lifestyle modifications, most of the women are able to conceive. Only a few require IVF(in vitro fertilization) which is considered when all other treatment options have failed. However, women with PCOS are at increased risk for certain complications during pregnancy.
Complications due to PCOS:
Miscarriage – PCOS increases the chances of having a miscarriage, the miscarriage rate being 30-50%. This can be due to the elevated insulin and testosterone levels or some genetic abnormality.
Gestational diabetes – It is another common complication in pregnant women with PCOS. These can lead to very large babies necessitating the need for cesarean deliveries. There can also be a sudden increase in blood pressure after the 20th week of pregnancy which is known as pre-eclampsia.
Preeclampsia – This can also affect the mother’s kidneys, liver, and brain. Pre-eclampsia should be promptly treated to prevent further complications like eclampsia, multiorgan dysfunction, and even death.
How to prevent the complications due to PCOS?
Rest assured though, despite these increased risks, most women who have PCOS and become pregnant, go on to have normal, healthy babies. The most important thing to do in PCOS with pregnancy is to follow a pregnancy safe exercise and diet program and strictly follow your doctor’s advice. There can be certain long-term risks also associated with PCOS. These women are also at risk for type 2 diabetes in a future life. By age 40, up to 40 percent of women with PCOS have some level of abnormal glucose tolerance, in the form of either diabetes or impaired glucose tolerance. They can also have unfavorable lipid profile and at increased risk of cardiovascular diseases. Women with PCOS are also at risk for developing cancer of the endometrium (lining of the uterus) later in life.