There are two approaches to improving fertility in those with PCOS. The first is to balance the underlying hormonal imbalance, the second to help establish a healthy weight.
- Either is often prescribed to help regulate the menstrual cycle, balance hormones and minimise symptoms.
Clomiphene Citrate (Clomid)
- Is commonly prescribed, to stimulate ovulation in women with PCOS who may not be ovulating.
These medications are by prescription only. Consult your GP or fertility specialist.
- Peony is beneficial in the treatment of PCOS for its ability to help reduce androgen (male hormone) levels and regulate estrogen and progesterone production. This herb works well when combined with liquorice.
- Vitex helps stimulate ovulation which can help improve chances of conception in those with erratic or anovulation.
Hormone balancing herbs should not be self-prescribed. See your natural fertility specialist or other qualified health care professional for specific dose recommendations.
Supporting healthy blood sugar regulation
The insulin resistance component of PCOS is a significant contributing factor in infertility. It can hinder your ability to ovulate and increase the risk of miscarriage. For this reason, Gynaecologists may prescribe medications to helps stabilise blood sugar however much can be done to support insulin resistance and healthy blood sugar levels through diet either alone or in conjunction with prescribed medications.
- Is commonly prescribed for people with type 2 diabetes as well as women with PCOS. Metformin helps control the amount of glucose in the bloodstream. Speak with your doctor about the benefits, risks and side effects of this medication.
- Eating a low glycaemic index (GI) diet helps to reduce insulin demand and support healthy stable blood sugar levels. Low GI foods break down slowly in the body releasing sustained energy and don’t cause the dramatic spike and subsequent drop in blood sugar caused by high GI foods such as refined carbohydrates and sugars. A study in the Medical Journal of Metabolism concluded that a low carbohydrate, high protein diet improves insulin resistance whereas a high carbohydrate, low protein diet made insulin resistance worse. Although it’s not necessary to completely cut out carbohydrates, reducing the consumption of refined carbohydrates and replacing these with wholegrain alternatives such as wholemeal breads, quinoa, millet and brown rice as well as increasing your protein will help reduce the insulin load.
- High fibre diets further support blood sugar balance by slowing the absorption of sugar into the blood stream, reducing the insulin spike. Fibre also supports healthy estrogen metabolism and reduction of androgens
Small regular meals
- A healthy PCOS diet should include 3 balanced meals and 2 healthy snacks eaten at regular intervals throughout the day. This helps to maintain healthy blood sugar levels and reduce sugar cravings.
- Oily fish, nuts, seeds and other sources of essential fatty acids
- Essential fatty acids (EFA’s) help to lower the GI of foods and reduce cravings.
The 90 day fertility diet has been specifically designed to support fertility, conception and the progression of a healthy pregnancy for women with PCOS.
- Chromium is a trace mineral that supports insulin activity. Clinical studies have shown improved insulin sensitivity in women with PCOS using chromium. Chromium can also be safely taken throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding
Recommended dose – 1000mcg per day
Food sources – Broccoli, barley, oats, green beans, tomatoes, romaine lettuce
- Vitamin D deficiency is commonly found in women presenting with insulin resistance or diabetes. Studies show that deficiency may play a role in blood sugar balance as well as increasing the risk of developing insulin resistance, diabetes and gestational diabetes. The exact mechanism by which vitamin D impacts blood sugar levels is largely unknown however studies have confirmed a link and further studies are being done to investigate the cause.
Recommended dose – 1000IU per day
Food sources – Milk, butter, salmon, tuna, cod liver oil, halibut liver oil, prawns, eggs yolk. The richest natural source of vitamin D is from sunlight
- Gymnema has been used for centuries in the management of blood glucose. It supports healthy blood glucose levels by regulating the absorption of sugar. It achieves this by acting on the pancreatic cells, which produce insulin. Gymnema helps enable more efficient insulin production as well as stimulating the production of the enzymes that help uptake glucose from the blood stream into cells. Several studies have proved Gymnema to be as effective as medications in the treatment of diabetes and insulin resistance and it is commonly prescribed by medical practitioners in Europe. This traditional herb also helps reduce sugar cravings and supports healthy weight loss.
Gymnema should only be used to help reduce symptoms prior to pregnancy and should not be used during pregnancy or breastfeeding.
Recommended dose – 200 – 400mg 3 times per day
- You probably recognise this herb from your favourite cake or muffin recipe. Now, clinical studies show that therapeutic doses of this aromatic spice have a strong balancing effect on blood sugar levels, greatly improving diabetic symptoms. Long before the blood sugar regulating properties of cinnamon were discovered, cinnamon was used traditionally for centuries to help reduce heavy menstrual bleeding and as a warming tonic for a ‘cold’ uterus. The term ‘cold’ uterus is a term used to describe a congested uterus with poor circulation and menstrual irregularities. It also acts as a warming, digestive tonic. You can freely use this spice for cooking during all phases of conception, pregnancy and breastfeeding.
However therapeutic doses of cinnamon should only be used to help reduce symptoms prior to pregnancy and should not be used during pregnancy or breastfeeding.
Recommended dose – 1000mg 3 times per day
- Exercise is always beneficial for general health and fertility however it is particularly beneficial and important to help promote weight loss and maintenance of a healthy weight in women with PCOS. Exercise helps improve insulin sensitivity and boost metabolism. A combination of aerobic and resistance exercise has been found to work best.