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Study Reviews Impact on PCOS on Pregnancy Complications

— July 9, 2024

PCOS affects 13% of women and can lead to reproductive and metabolic health issues.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a challenging disease, impacting an estimated 13% of women in their reproductive years. Early warning signs include irregular menstrual cycles or not having one at all, increased male hormones levels (called androgens) that lead to abnormal hair growth, acne, and numerous small cysts on the ovaries. It has also been linked to other complications like insulin resistance, which can lead to type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome, which increases the risk of developing heart disease. Those with the condition are at higher risk for developing obesity, high blood pressure, and mental health issues, particularly depression.

The exact cause of PCOS is not fully understood by the medical field to date, but it is believed to involve a combination of both genetic and environmental factors. Women with a family history of PCOS are more likely to develop the condition, and those already insulin-resistant and/or overweight are also at increased risk.

Mansi Sharma, Consultant- Obstetrician & Gynecologist, Motherhood Hospital, said, “In case, a woman displays any of these signs then it will be imperative for her to seek timely intervention by consulting the doctor. It is not advisable to neglect PCOS and delay the treatment.” Sharma added, “Testosterone, DHEA-S, LH, and FSH are done to check for hormonal imbalances. Transvaginal ultrasound helps to know the presence of cysts on the ovaries and helps assess their size and number. Genetic testing, MRI, or CT can be recommended for women with PCOS.”

Study Reviews Impact on PCOS on Birth Outcomes
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Not only can delaying diagnosis and treatment cause issues for the woman herself, but it can be harmful should she decide to try conceiving. A new study published in Nature Communications focused specifically on the impact of PCOS on birth outcomes and possible complications by performing a meta-analysis on the existing research in more than 70 studies (4595 articles) published between 2017 and 2022. The studies included the birth outcomes of nearly 78,000 babies born to mothers without PCOS and 15,070 born to those with the condition, focusing only on PCOS cases diagnosed using the Rotterdam criteria.

Findings consistently showed women with PCOS are more likely to experience other complications like preterm births with the risk remaining consistent over time even when excluding other variables. Their newborns also had a lower mean birth weight than babies born to mothers without PCOS, and women with the condition a higher likelihood of fetal growth restriction. Other studies have shown the rate of pregnancy loss in women with PCOS can be as high as 30% to 40% during the first trimester compared to 10-15% in those who don’t have the condition. If the condition isn’t managed properly ahead of time, pregnancy outcomes might be worse.

Because PCOS makes it more difficult for women to conceive to begin with, those who want to have children may or may not be able to and must work slowly with a medical provider to determine the viability and safety of becoming pregnant. It’s important to maintain a healthy diet and weight, engage in physical activity, and regulate hormone levels with proper stress management.


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