PCOS affects between 4-20% of women, often goes undiagnosed, and has no definitive diagnostic test. In addition, its symptoms ranging from weight gain to irregular or missing periods, excess hair growth, ovarian cysts, low blood sugar, fatigue, and others are challenging to manage. If you’ve been diagnosed with PCOS or have at least a subset of the symptoms, how can you effectively manage them?
September is PCOS Awareness Month, so we are launching a short series on this important topic. PCOS is the most common “endocrine” (i.e., affecting the glands that secrete hormones or other products directly into the blood) disorder among women. PCOS affects between 4-20% of women, depending on the study and the exact diagnostic criteria used. If you’re thinking that we don’t talk enough about something that affects so many women, we couldn’t agree more. So let’s dive in:
Today’s post in our series on lifestyle & fertility focuses on vitamins and supplements. Taking vitamins and supplements in preparation for fertility treatment is something that we can control and that’s easy to do. But what’s been shown to help fertility outcomes? What has been tested but shown no or inconclusive results? We’ll discuss folic acid, vitamin D, and antioxidants below – some of the results surprised us. As usual, ask your doctor prior to your treatment for their recommendations and guidance, as they may be aware of even more recent unpublished research.
The question of drinking before and during fertility treatment tends to bring out strong opinions. It also comes up a lot with our Ovally customers: “Can I have at least a little Spanish wine during treatment?”. For the purpose of this post, we are going to focus on alcohol consumption before and during fertility treatment until conception only, and leave out any research on pregnancy and alcohol. As usual, check with your doctor on their guidance regarding alcohol intake during any fertility treatment. We’re summarizing the findings of high-quality research studies for you, but your doctor may have access to relevant, yet to be published findings.
We’re surrounded by positive messages about exercising, yet there are surprisingly few quality studies that have looked at a potential link between exercise and fertility. We know that female athletes often have irregularities with their cycles, and that high levels of exercise seem to be associated with longer menstrual cycles. Research on fertility patients has been inconclusive – one study showed that moderate exercise was correlated with a lower likelihood of having a baby, another showed the opposite.
Relatively clear answers and quality research can be hard to come by in fertility research. However, when it comes to how food relates to fertility outcomes, there are some decent data! The short answer is: Avoid fast food, and instead embrace fruits, vegetables, legumes, fish, whole grains, and foods high in omega 3, such as nuts. This goes not just for women undergoing fertility treatment, but also those hoping to conceive naturally. This “Mediterranean diet” has also been linked to higher sperm count and sperm quality in men. And yes, the literature actually refers to it as a “Mediterranean diet” – we swear we didn’t make it up because Ovally‘s partner clinics are in Spain :)!
“My friend suggested that I freeze my eggs in Europe because costs are much lower. After doing some research online, I felt overwhelmed by all of the unknown variables – is it safe, will anyone speak English, how long will I be there, where do I even start!? I was ready to give up on the whole idea and just empty my savings account to do the procedure in the US. Then I read about Ovally and reviewed their website. Shortly after, I had a phone call with a fertility coach, and then she took it from there! She matched me with the perfect clinic and even helped me plan my travel! My experience with Ovally was fantastic. They were in touch regularly before, during, and even after the process. Also, I could reach out to them asking even the smallest of questions, and would receive an almost immediate response.