Getting pregnant with PCOS can sometimes take a bit longer but there are incredibly effective lifestyle changes we know optimise fertility for pregnancy success.
We are so excited to have been able to interview Brigitte Warne, Founder of PCOS to Wellness, to hear about her journey to pregnancy. Brigitte is a huge advocate for raising awareness around the importance of gut health for managing PCOS and we wanted to know some of the changes Brigitte made on her journey to motherhood.
Enjoy our chat!
When Were you Diagnosed with PCOS?
I was diagnosed in 2017, I was 27 and had just got married. My husband Jesse and I were thinking about maybe having children, so I decided to come off the contraceptive pill (after 10 years of being on it). To my horror I was met with acne, hair loss, anxiety and a completely absent menstrual cycle. After nearly 8 months after coming off the pill and still no sign of a menstrual cycle I was finally diagnosed with PCOS.
Were You Worried it Would be Difficult to Get Pregnant?
My doctor pretty much told me point blank that there was no cure for PCOS, AND I wouldn't be able to conceive naturally, so yes I was very concerned. I spent a few days feeling devastated and being defeated and then I decided to get busy and research everything I possibly could about PCOS.
I looked after everything from evidence based studies, to academic journals and alternative health practices and even online blogs from women documenting their own journeys.
Through my research I started to see a pattern reoccurring of women being told exactly what I was told, that falling pregnant with PCOS was almost impossible.
But I also read some stories of women who had made diet and lifestyle changes, and with different herbs and supplements they had been able to manage their PCOS and even fall pregnant naturally. So this was what started me on my journey to naturally manage my PCOS symptoms and increase my fertility.
What Did you Know About the Gut-Fertility Connection?
I have always known that gut health was really important to overall health and was particularly interested in its benefits to helping my acne, however it was only when I was diagnosed with PCOS that I began to understand how important it was in helping to optimise fertility, but also PCOS is general. Studies have shown that women with PCOS have less good bacteria than normal which can be linked to causing inflammation and insulin resistance.
One thing that I have realised more is the importance of quality prebiotics. I think its easy to focus on probiotics which we hear about all the time, but its so important to ensure we are feeding our good bacteria with plenty of probiotics to ensure optimal gut health.
What Dietary Changes Did You Make to Nurture Your Gut?
The biggest changes I made was increasing my whole food plant intake and eliminating inflammatory foods such as high glycaemic index (GI) foods, alcohol, refined sugars etc.
Over time I have been able to reintroduce small amounts of some of these foods, but I still choose to eat predominantly plant based and stick to organic whole foods were possible as I know how much diet has an impact on my PCOS symptoms.
What Benefits Did You Notice Once You Began to Nurture Your Gut Health?
Physically the biggest difference was in my skin, it became much clearer and less inflamed. But I also noticed all my PCOS symptoms were easier to manage and I felt less anxious too.
What Are Your Top 3 Tips for Managing PCOS?
1. Start with your diet, really look at what might be causing inflammation and eliminate it and then add in more plants. The more variety the better!
2. Consider what dietary support might be right for you. I had great success with herbs which is one of the main reasons I created Cysterhood hormone balance tea and also supplements such as zinc, b12, magnesium and Fertile Gut. You may also be interested in having a blood test done to see if you are deficient in any nutrients too.
3. Reduce your stress. Stress plays a huge role on our overall health, but particularly our hormone health. Many women with PCOS suffer from low level chronic stress which makes it very hard for our hormones to work optimally so find out way that will help you to manage your stress i.e., yoga, walking, cooking or taking a bath and try to incorporate it into your routine.
Want to Hear More Gut-Fertility Tips?
If you would love to hear us talk with Brigitte about all things Gut Health and PCOS, check out episdoe 16 of The PCOS Girls Podcast!