If you have PCOS then getting pregnant has an extra level of stress and challenge to it. PCOS disrupts your menstrual cycle, so ovulate more rarely and less regularly than people without the condition. It doesn’t mean you can’t get pregnant, but it does mean you have to understand how PCOS affects your body, and make sure you’re taking steps to minimise its effects.

Today we’re looking at how you can track fertility when you have PCOS: why you need to, how it helps, and what the best fertility kit is to help you maximise your chances of getting pregnant.

PCOS and Your Body

The symptoms of PCOS are caused by an overproduction of three key hormones or hormonal groups in your body. First, your body begins to make too much insulin. This begins a cycle of insulin resistance, weight gain and further insulin production that becomes the engine of the condition.

The weight gain associated with insulin resistance causes your body to produce more oestrogen, while the abundance of insulin itself causes your body to create more androgens. These are normally referred to as male sex hormones, and include testosterone. The interactions of these hormones cause all of the symptoms of PCOS, but today we’re focussing on the fertility effects.

Ovulation

All of these additional hormones in your endocrine system have a disruptive effect on your menstrual cycle. It takes longer for eggs to mature in your ovaries, and longer for ovulation to occur. This means it’s hard to predict when you’re going to ovulate (if it happens at all), and therefore you can’t make sure you’re trying to conceive during your fertile window, which reduces your chance to get pregnant.

Spotting and Predicting Ovulation

To give yourself a better chance of success, you need a system that can detect when you’re ovulating that’s not affected by this blanket of hormonal disruption. OPKs, or ovulation predictor kits test for Luteinising Hormone (or sometimes Oestrogen) in your urine, so they’re not a good choice.

Your Basal Body Temperature could offer an answer. This is the low temperature your body drops to during an extended rest, when your metabolism falls to its minimum. This minimum temperature changes by tenths of a degree across the length of your cycle, and if you can recognise the pattern of changes that happens in advance of your ovulation, you know that you should be trying to conceive!

Modern BBT thermometers make charting the temperature easier for you by feeding out to an app that can tell you when you’re going to ovulate with more accuracy than you could manage with a pen and paper, so it’s well worth investing in a technological solution to help track your fertility.