Medication can help
The first approach to treating infertility in women with PCOS is typically medication that helps with ovulation. Different fertility drugs can encourage the growth and release of more than 1 egg each cycle, increasing the chances of a successful pregnancy. Adding positive lifestyle changes, such as weight loss, can also help trigger conception.
Add in IUI
If medication alone isn’t enough to help, IUI will often be considered as the next step. During IUI, the male partner’s sperm is collected, washed, and concentrated and then inserted directly into the uterus with a catheter near the time of ovulation. In conjunction with ovulation-inducing medication, this approach can be effective for many women with PCOS who need just a little extra help to get pregnant.
Moving on to IVF
If a few rounds of IUI do not result in pregnancy, the next step is to move on to in vitro fertilization. With IVF, the woman is again given medication to try to produce multiple eggs in a single cycle. The eggs are then extracted and combined with the male partner’s sperm in the fertility lab. After growing and dividing for a few days, the embryo is transferred directly into the woman’s uterus for implantation. In vitro fertilization is the most effective ART treatment and is most likely to result in pregnancy.
Choosing the right treatment
The decision about whether to opt for IUI or IVF depends on a multitude of factors. A recent study found that most pregnancies among women with PCOS undergoing IUI occurred in the first 3 cycles. Women who have the time to attempt a few rounds of fertility treatment may find this less invasive and lower-cost option to be better. Moving straight to IVF might make more sense for older women, those with other underlying health conditions, or patients with limited time.
No need to panic
Although PCOS can cause infertility, different fertility treatments can help. Both IUI and IVF are great options to consider for building a family. Speak with a fertility specialist to determine the best procedure based on age, finances, time commitment, and underlying health conditions. Living with PCOS doesn’t have to mean pregnancy is impossible.