If you’re trying to get pregnant then you’re likely all too aware of PCOS – polycystic ovary syndrome. It’s a hormone-based condition that can disrupt your monthly menstrual cycle, and either delay ovulation, or cause you to skip it altogether.
Today we’re taking a look at PCOS, to see how it can affect you, and the best ways to stop it coming between you and conception.
The big problem when you have PCOS and are trying to get pregnant is the disruption to your monthly cycle. If you’re planning to get pregnant one of the first things you’ll do is try to count through your monthly cycle which helps you identify when you ovulate and thus when you stand the best chance of conceiving.
This tactic works well if you have a very regular cycle, but if you have irregular cycles, either as a result of polycystic ovary syndrome, stress (which can disrupt your menstrual cycle in your body’s attempt to ensure you won’t have a child in a less than optimal environment) or simply the vagaries of your own body, then identifying that key point can difficult.
As PCOS makes ovulation unpredictable and rare, finding it and capitalising on it is really important when you’re trying to conceive.
One of the more common ways people try to track their fertility and ovulation from month to month are with hormone test kits (known as ovulation predictor kits or OPKs).
They’re widely available and work in a similar way to pregnancy tests, so they can be a very convenient option. Unfortunately they don’t offer much predictive power to people with polycystic ovary syndrome. It’s a condition caused by a hormone imbalance, with an excess of Androgen, a male sex hormone preventing eggs from maturing and being released.
This different hormonal make up makes it difficult for an off the shelf kit to identify the usual patterns it uses to tell you whether or not you’re ovulating, so the normal tools aren’t going to help us here.
Basal Body Temperature
A better measure, especially for people with PCOS is your Basal Body Temperature: the minimum temperature your body winds down to during a night’s rest. This dips the day before you ovulate and then over the next 72 hours spikes but a noticeable 0.2 degrees.
Measuring your BBT can be tricky, as it begins to change from the moment you wake up, with the physical activity of taking your own temperature enough to interfere with your results, but it does provide a good predictor. Using a modern kit to measure it, with a sensor that can monitor your temperature throughout the night and interpret the results for you could be the answer you need!