PCOS and IVF: How does PCOS influence my IVF journey?

Tamara HunterBlog

How does PCOS influence my IVF journey?
PCOS is often associated with infertility and irregular or absent periods. There are effective ways to manage fertility and PCOS, including IVF, though it’s important to first manage your weight and diet.

Managing your fertility with PCOS

There’s often a belief that women with PCOS, or polycystic ovarian syndrome, can’t have babies. First, let’s put that myth to rest. Plenty of women with PCOS are able to get pregnant and IVF can be very successful in PCOS women.

However, it’s important that your condition is managed by a fertility specialist and that you take steps to address some of the issues that typically affect women with PCOS, such as weight gain and insulin resistance.


PCOS diet: why it matters

One of the main characters of PCOS is abnormal ovarian function and often women with PCOS either don’t ovulate or do so irregularly. So, when women struggle to fall pregnant the discussion often turns to IVF. When a woman with PCOS comes to our Perth clinic to discuss IVF, our first recommendation is to tackle lifestyle issues.

As many as 40 percent of women with PCOS struggle with problems such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and pre-diabetes. That means it’s important to limit sugary foods, exercise regularly, and achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Once you are doing everything to control your PCOS through diet and exercise, our fertility clinic will talk to you about fertility treatment, such as ovulation-inducing drugs and possibly also the diabetes drug metformin to improve your chances of ovulation.

Addressing PCOS egg quality as part of IVF

Another common problem with PCOS is that women may be producing enough eggs, but the egg quality can often be poor.

This is because the eggs are exposed to higher levels of testosterone. As a result, women with PCOS do struggle with higher rates of infertility as well as higher rates of miscarriage.

However, treatment with ovarian stimulation therapies as part of the IVF protocol can overcome many of these issues and improve egg quality and fertility.


Does IVF work for women with PCOS?

Firstly it is important to say that the first line treatment for the dysfunctional ovulation associated with PCOS is ovulation induction. However for some women with PCOS this treatment is not appropriate. IVF can be very effective in women with the condition. In fact, a retrospective study of 44,286 IVF treatments, of which 16,416 women had PCOS, found those women with PCOS had a higher probability of pregnancy and live birth after IVF than women with tubal factor infertility. (PCOS is associated with better IVF outcomes in women younger than 40, Medivizor, April 2015). Expertise is required to reduce the risk of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome in women with PCOS going through IVF as they are at increased risk.

At our Perth clinic, we’ll start by helping you manage your health through recommendations on weight and diet, and then discuss the various methods we can use to help you get pregnant taking PCOS into account.