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Hi there, fellow PCOS warrior! Are you searching for ways to get pregnant with PCOS without medication?
***I am not a doctor or medical professional, this is simply what worked for me. Please consult your doctor with any changes to your treatment or questions you may have.***
I have gotten pregnant with PCOS without medication twice now and wanted to hopefully help some fellow cysters out.
Before I get started, I want to say, my heart is with you. I know PCOS is not a disease where there is a one-size-fits-all fix.
However, regardless of your situation, my research indicates almost any woman with polycystic ovarian syndrome can benefit from these lifestyle changes I am about to explain more in depth.
When I say in depth, I mean it, this is an info packed article. Go grab a mug of coffee or hot tea, you’re going to be hanging with me a while!
When I was first diagnosed with PCOS I listened wholeheartedly to my doctor’s recommendations to take birth control to regulate my cycles (I was having an average of maybe two periods per year) and to take Metformin to improve my insulin resistance.
Then I got angry.
Angry at the disease. Angry at the doctor. Angry at myself and the universe. You get the picture.
But that anger was the most productive anger of my life.
It led me down the path to better health with PCOS.
It made my two amazing little girls a reality.
Let’s start with the road to my first pregnancy.
The February before I conceived my first child I was at my heaviest weight, my skin was going crazy with acne, that lovely PCOS facial and body hair was having a heyday. I felt so completely discouraged.
Once I quit feeling sorry for myself and got angry, I went into obsessive research mode. It’s kind of my superpower.
What I discovered made me angrier but also gave me direction. I found out birth control is bad for PCOS. Wait? Didn’t my doctor prescribe that medication to help me get better?
Birth control just masks some of the symptoms of PCOS like amenorrhea (aka my lack of periods). Yeah, that really pissed me off too.
My groundbreaking discovery was that PCOS is largely controlled by blood sugar regulation.
Ladies, this is amazing news for us. It means we have so much more control over our disease than we may realize.
I actually ended up having a yearly physical around this time with my general practitioner. I talked with her at length about the effects I was experiencing with Metformin and my research.
She confirmed my suspicions. Her advice to me was to quit the Metformin and to make the necessary lifestyle changes to increase my insulin sensitivity and control my blood sugar.
I decided to start a blog called SECS vs PCOS to keep me motivated and also to try to connect with and possibly help other women with this disease. I have moved all of that material onto this blog as I let the other one gather dust after my first child was conceived and born.
However, it is dear to me because it is a journal of progress that leads directly to my first natural pregnancy with PCOS.
Here is how I got pregnant with PCOS without medication:
When I was in high school I was lean. I had some issues with being overweight from the ages of about 7 years old until I was around 12 years old.
When I did my PCOS research I realized the key components that kept me lean as a teenager were my diet and exercise habits.
I will be forever grateful that I discovered The Schwarzbein Principle as a teenager because it was life-changing.
This book helped me naturally keep my PCOS in check before I ever knew I suffered from the disease. I followed the advice because I wanted to be healthy (and of course thin, I was a teenager after all!) but the added side effect it had was protecting me from the effects of my disease.
All through my teen years I chose to follow a mostly whole foods based diet that followed a healthy carbohydrate concept. I tried to keep my meals below a certain number of carbs and I tried to always pair my carbs with fat and protein to mitigate the effects they would have on my blood sugar.
Well, I never went hungry and I was as thin as I’ve ever been.
All of this to say, finding a way to eat that keeps your blood sugar in check is a key component to combating polycystic ovarian syndrome.
When I realized that I knew how to eat properly for this disease (and had just let it go by the wayside as a young adult out on her own for the first time) I hopped right back into this way of eating.
I kept careful watch over my net carb intake at each snack and meal and I also kept a tally to limit how much added sugar I was eating each day. The limit I set for myself was no more than 45g of net carbs per meal, no more than 15g of net carbs per snack and no more than 20g of added sugar per day.
This works for my body. I am able to lose excess weight and control symptoms of my PCOS such as acne and irregular periods when I eat this way.
This is also how I was eating when I conceived our first child- a mere 7 months after I committed myself to getting healthy.
After our first daughter was born I carried an extra 15-20 pounds after my initial breastfeeding weight loss. That extra weight started coming off when she was about a year old without worrying too much about my diet and exercise.
However, as she began eating solid foods, my husband and I decided to move towards a healthier lifestyle since we are both predisposed to metabolic and autoimmune diseases.
We began eating mostly autoimmune paleo. The rest of the excess weight came off in a snap plus an extra 10 or so pounds. I felt amazing, and even though we have fallen out of the habit of eating this way, I know this is probably the most ideal way for me to eat.
I became pregnant with our second daughter within 6 months of losing the weight and eating this way.
After our second daughter was born I decided I wanted to get the bit of extra weight I was carrying off my frame a little sooner and I discovered Trim Healthy Mama.
Trim Healthy Mama was a good fit for us at that time because we were also gluten free as my husband was working to heal his gut health. I loved having so many healthy, low carb and gluten free options available in the accompanying Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook.
The plan and cookbook are written by two sisters who are moms to many children so they “get” how hard it can be to eat properly, especially with a new baby or small children running about. It really helped me to get so many PCOS friendly recipe ideas that were quick like protein shakes or single serve treats.
Another book that I am currently reading is The Obesity Code. A friend of mine who also suffers from PCOS recommended it to me and it is truly a fascinating read. It specifically addresses insulin resistance and ways that our modern diet and lifestyle have led to an insulin resistance epidemic and therefore our obesity crisis.
The topics and strategies he covers are perfect for PCOS sufferers and my friend, who was struggling to control her PCOS despite doing seemingly everything right is finally seeing some awesome results thanks to the advice in this book and following a ketogenic diet.
These diets all have one thing in common: carefully controlled blood sugar
Each of these eating plans specifically monitors carb intake and its effect on blood sugar regulation. Boom.
Find a plan that fits your lifestyle and kick some major PCOS butt with it!
I am currently using the knowledge I have gained from all of the books and methods to create a healthy eating lifestyle that works best for our family. Rather than sticking with one specific plan, I have found that I can do best by using the parts of each that work best for us.
All of my initial research into controlling PCOS naturally helped me understand that moving my body was critically important. Equally important was how I moved my body.
Again, in high school, I was at my leanest. I was super in shape from spending most of my free time at the YMCA. It was an escape from the insane home life a messy divorce created.
During my gym time I would usually do 30 minutes to 1 hour of moderate cardio on the treadmill, stationary bike, or elliptical. Then I would do some serious strength training. Most days I also got outside and walked around 4 miles.
My PCOS research helped me understand that both of these activities are equally important for increasing insulin sensitivity and controlling blood sugar.
Whether it’s riding a bike or swimming laps or dancing like a madwoman, finding a way to get your heartbeat up is an important part of taking care of yourself with PCOS.
My research helped me understand that it’s important to choose a moderate intensity exercise with PCOS because our adrenals tend to already be fatigued. However, it is a vital part of any PCOS care plan because it helps empty cells of excess glucose which in turn increases insulin sensitivity.
When I was first on my path to health and on my way to conceiving our first daughter, I committed to walking the recommended 10,000 steps per day. I bought a pedometer and my husband (fiance at the time) and I competed over who could get the most steps in a day to keep it a little bit more fun (nowadays I wear a Fitbit that also tracks my heart rate and sleep since I know those are other important measures of my health).
When our daughter was about 18 months old I felt ready to start prepping my body for another pregnancy because I was convinced it was going to be another uphill battle. Part of this prep work included getting back into a good exercise routine. A goal of mine has always been to be able to run a 5k at some point in my life.
We decided to invest in a jogging stroller after some research because it turns out jogging and running with a regular stroller isn’t a safe option. We found a decent jogging stroller similar to this one on Craigslist for the right price, thankfully.
My husband and I started working through the Couch to 5k program together, and I started walking regularly again as well.
Surprise! Our second daughter was conceived within the first few weeks of the Couch to 5k program (sadly I get too sick during my pregnancies with hyperemesis gravidarum to keep up with much of my healthy intentions and this goal got put on the back-burner again).
I’m not saying that doing the Couch to 5k program is what led to my pregnancy directly, but I feel sure that combined with my healthy diet and some supplements I was taking that it likely helped things along.
Now that my second baby is older I have been working on the Couch to 5k program again (it’s a bit slow-going right now between my running buddy quitting and the Southern summer heat, but I WILL finish this program at some point and probably write about it!). It’s a great program that makes even me, the girl who used to bribe the boys with kisses (on the cheek!) not to chase me during recess in kindergarten, feel like even I can run!
I got started again by trading our single jogging stroller for a double jogging stroller like this one.
I also found a friend (who also has PCOS!) who wanted to work through the program with me which made sticking with it much more fun!
As a side-note, I did recently change from my $20 budget running shoes to some nice Asics running shoes similar to these and I really wish I had done that sooner.
It is amazing how much of a difference having the right type of gear can make for an activity. I did make progress with my less than shoestring budget running hodge-podge and it’s totally cool to do it that way, but the difference it makes having gear that makes you more comfortable is incredible.
Although I know I should be doing strength training I haven’t gotten around to making it a commitment yet. However, I feel quite certain this is the component of my teenage lifestyle that really kept my PCOS in check. Building muscle is one of the best things you can do for blood sugar control and reversing insulin resistance. Hopefully I get this added back into my life soon, it was my favorite part of my gym time as a teen!
Research shows that disrupted sleep leads to disrupted hormones. People who are sleep deprived have an increased risk of becoming insulin resistant. Lack of sleep also causes increased cortisol levels (which causes more fat storage) and increased ghrelin (which makes you hungrier) with decreased leptin (which means your body doesn’t get the message it’s had enough to eat) meaning people suffering from sleep deprivation are more likely to be overweight.
This is an area I have always struggled with, although now the struggle is mostly due to having two small children who need me throughout the night.
In a nutshell, make sleep a priority. Set an alarm to go to bed. Use good sleep hygiene. Do whatever it takes, but get good rest each night. It’s a critical component to controlling your PCOS and your overall health.
Lastly, I did a ton of research before conceiving each of my girls. I did research about the best diet and exercise for PCOS but I also did research about supplements, vitamins, minerals, and herbs that might support my PCOS goals. This information is constantly evolving and changing so it is well worth the time to read up on the latest information.
Before my first daughter I got pregnant with PCOS without medication the first time, some of the supplements I used included the following:
They were chosen at different times for different reasons. You need to do your own research and talk to your own doctor before adding in things like supplements. Some should not be taken together, some need to be taken together. Some are great for one situation and awful for another, so please please please do some careful research first. That being said I strongly believe they (along with dietary support) can help PCOS.
Before conceiving my second daughter I decided to try out moon cycling even though I thought it sounded crazy, and I think it is what really sped up my conception time.
I didn’t use the suggested seeds but I did add in the following supplements during the “correct moon phase.”
Another thing I did differently before I got pregnant with PCOS with our second child was use a fertility tracker.
Tracking my fertility signs and cycles helps me gain a deeper knowledge of my body. When I see fertile signs such as increased cervical fluid or mittelschmerz (ovulation pain) I know I am on the right track with my PCOS care.
I highly recommend the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler, you will understand your body so much better!
Tracking cycles and fertility can show you if you’re having any issues that need to be resolved like a Luteal Phase Defect or alert you that you’re having a fertile window open (yay!).
All of the actionable steps I have outlined are things you can start doing right now to improve your health with PCOS.
Get a summarized version of these tips sent directly to your E-mail by visiting this post to request a free printable list of steps (it’s really pretty too, I promise!).
You can read more about my PCOS journey if you are interested. It is my biggest hope that my story can help more women with PCOS regain their health- and to achieve their pregnancy goals like I have.
Nothing in the world can compare to taking the steps needed and achieving this dream. If I can help you, I want to.
As always, I love to hear from my readers! Are there any tips you would add to my list? Did you learn anything new? Let me know in the comments below!
Lastly, if you liked this post, please take a moment to share it with others!
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