Wednesday, August 22, 2012

PCOS and Pregnancy

That joyous moment has arrived - the pregnancy test is positive (whether it is the first test you've taken, or the tenth...) If this is your first pregnancy, you likely buy a book about pregnancy that details everything that happens, scour the internet for information or sign up for a weekly email to find out what is happening inside you. Perhaps you do all 3! If you have PCOS, you may also research how PCOS affects pregnancy, or you may have already done that while trying to conceive... 

What you find out is not encouraging... 

Just simply having PCOS increases the risk for miscarriage... or as the medical community likes to call it - a spontaneous abortion (I have come to hate that term!). Most miscarriages happen in the first trimester of pregnancy (up to about 13 weeks), which is why some couples wait to spread the news until then. I know we don't tell until after that point (except for a few people - like our parents), especially since our first pregnancy ended at about 10 weeks... It is a hard thing to have to tell people that you aren't pregnant anymore when you are grieving. On the flip side, if you want support during your time of mourning, it is nice to have people know.

Having PCOS also increases the risk for having preeclampsia (or having high blood pressure and protein in your pee. Sorry I just said pee...) It is a condition that needs treatment pretty quickly so that other, more serious complications do not happen. At our clinic they took a urine sample every appointment to test for protein (and other things). 

Just as PCOS puts increases the risk for developing type 2 diabetes, it also increases the risk for developing gestational diabetes. Most (if not all) Obstetricians screen for gestational diabetes around 24-28 weeks. If diagnosed with GD you will have to be monitored a bit more, and your doctor will probably suggest a diet and exercise that will help the complications be lessened. 

Lastly, PCOS increases the risk of having a premature delivery. Premature delivery is any deliver before 37 weeks gestation. Most hospitals will try to stop premature labor, unless it has progressed far enough that they cannot safely stop delivery. Although having a baby early may seem like a great relief - I know how uncomfortable those last few months are (and I did have premature labor at 36 weeks that was stopped, not necessarily enjoyable but better for the baby.) - having the baby in utero for as close to 40 weeks as possible is always best (not that you want to be told that at 38 weeks!) Most babies born pre-term have to spend time in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

Ironically enough, if you look at risk factors for most of these conditions in most places, it does not list having PCOS as something that increases your risk. However, most places that discuss PCOS and pregnancy include these on a list of complications you are at a higher risk of! Even the same book/website makes this oversight. It is obvious that there is still a need to get the word out about PCOS!

*Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, nor do I have a lot of knowledge of PCOS other than what I've read (and continue to read). This is just me, my opinions, how I understand PCOS (which may be flawed, but I am trying to understand more completely) and how I am dealing with it.

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