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Why PCOS Matters to Your Fertility

5 things you need to know about PCOS and how it affects your fertility.

Why PCOS Matters to Your Fertility

You’ve skipped a period or two and have been breaking out like a teenager. It’s easy to dismiss it as stress or lack of sleep, but these symptoms may indicate that you have polycystic ovarian syndrome, otherwise known as PCOS. Though the exact causes remain unknown, PCOS is a common disorder associated with hormonal imbalances and insulin resistance, which doctors think is caused by genetics. This condition affects 5-10% of reproductive aged women, but millions of women remain undiagnosed.

In honor of PCOS awareness month, we want to shed light on the condition and help you understand how it may affect your fertility. Here are 5 things you should know about PCOS.

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1. To diagnose PCOS, doctors are looking for three specific signs. The symptoms of PCOS can vary dramatically from person to person, which can make it tough to diagnose. That said, three symptoms seem to be consistent across the board.

- Absent or irregular periods. This means having periods in an irregular way, less than 6-8 a year. A lot of women will have “regular” cycles that are longer or shorter than the regular 28-day cycle. This is quite common and is still considered a regular cycle.

- Acne and hair growth on the upper lip, chin, nipple area or lower abdomen. Though androgens are male hormones, both men and women have them. But men have higher levels, and excess androgens in women can lead to pimples and facial and abdominal hair growth. Other women with PCOS may have elevated testosterone levels on blood testing.

- Polycystic-appearing ovaries. If a woman has PCOS, the ultrasound will show multiple “cysts” in the ovaries. These cysts aren’t abnormal per se — they represent “follicles,” the tiny individual sacs in the ovaries which contain hibernating eggs. A polycystic ovary usually has 20 or more visible follicles. Many women who don’t have PCOS and have regular cycles can still have “polycystic-appearing” ovaries.

2. PCOS can resemble other medical conditions and can also affect other areas of your health. Even though PCOS is the most common cause of irregular periods, there are other treatable medical conditions that can cause irregular cycles. Diseases affecting other hormone producing sites in the body — like your thyroid, pituitary or adrenal gland — can lead to signs that imitate PCOS. So it’s worth talking with your doctor to rule out these problems.

Women with PCOS are also at higher risk of developing diabetes, heart disease and uterine cancer. So your doctor can help you manage the condition and decrease the chance of these diseases affecting your health down the road.

3. You can’t cure PCOS, but you can manage it. Birth control pills can help smooth out the natural hormonal fluctuations that occur in PCOS and can thus lead to more regular cycles. The pill can also help treat the acne and hair growth associated with the condition. Finally, it (besides contraception) can lower the risk of developing pre-cancerous changes in the uterus. If you don’t like the idea of popping a pill every day but want to protect your uterus against cancer, the Nuva-Ring or progestin-IUD are two other good hormonal contraceptive options. Eating a well-balanced diet with vegetable, lean proteins and healthy fat help regulate insulin sensitivity and reduce unpleasant symptoms.

4. If you are trying to get pregnant and have PCOS, you don’t necessarily need to take fertility drugs. Women with PCOS may not ovulate regularly, but they still do naturally and unpredictably. So if you’re trying to get pregnant, the key is to have regular intercourse (2-3 times a week). Since an egg can be fertilized for 12 to 24 hours after being released and sperm can survive for up to 5 days, having unprotected sex regularly is your best bet. Don’t get hung up on all the different ovulation predictor tests: basal body temperature charting and urine ovulation tests don’t work as well for women who have PCOS. If you are overweight, shedding some pounds can sometimes help correct the hormonal imbalances associated with PCOS, leading to more regular, ovulatory cycles.

If you can’t seem to get pregnant naturally, then you should see your gynecologist or fertility specialist. These doctors can prescribe fertility pills such as clomiphene citrate (Clomid) or letrozole (Femara) to help you ovulate. In certain instances, your doctor might prescribe a medicine called metformin to help with ovulation.

5. Even though you don’t ovulate regularly, your egg supply continues to decrease at a normal rate. Females are born with 1-2 million eggs, and by the time a girl has her first menstrual period, whether it’s at 10 or 16, her egg supply is down to about 300,000-500,000. This egg disappearing act continues whether or not a woman has regular cycles (just we shed skin and hair cells every day of our life). So, even if you’re not having regular cycles -- whether it’s because you have PCOS or you’re on the Pill or you’re pregnant -- the egg supply in your ovaries is decreasing. With that said, there is some medical research suggesting that women with PCOS may be more likely to hit menopause at a slightly later age than the average of 51. Whether this translates to a longer time frame to try and conceive remains to be seen.

These challenges from Nike PLAYlist are exactly what my child needs to stay active

Plus a fall family bucket list to keep everyone moving all season long.

While it's hard to name anything that the pandemic hasn't affected, one thing that is constantly on my mind is how to keep my family active despite spending more time indoors. Normally, this time of year would be spent at dance and gymnastics lessons, meeting up with friends for games and field trips, and long afternoon playdates where we can all let off a little steam. Instead, we find ourselves inside more often than ever before—and facing down a long winter of a lot more of the same.

I started to search for an outlet that would get my girls moving safely while we social distance, but at first I didn't find a lot of solutions. Online videos either weren't terribly engaging for my active kids, or the messaging wasn't as positive around the power of movement as I would like. Then I found the Nike PLAYlist.

I always knew that Nike could get me moving, but I was so impressed to discover this simple resource for parents. PLAYlist is an episodic sports show on YouTube that's made for kids and designed to teach them the power of expressing themselves through movement. The enthusiastic kid hosts immediately captured my daughter's attention, and I love how the physical activity is organically incorporated in fun activities without ever being specifically called out as anything other than play. For example, this segment where the kids turn yoga into a game of Paper Scissors Rock? Totally genius. The challenges from #TheReplays even get my husband and me moving more when our daughter turns it into a friendly family competition. (Plus, I love the play-inspired sportswear made just for kids!)

My daughter loves the simple Shake Ups at the beginning of the episode and is usually hopping off the couch to jump, dance and play within seconds. One of her favorites is this Sock Flinger Shake Up activity from the Nike PLAYlist that's easy for me to get in on too. Even after we've put away the tablet, the show inspires her to create her own challenges throughout the day.

The best part? The episodes are all under 5 minutes, so they're easy to sprinkle throughout the day whenever we need to work out some wiggles (without adding a lot of screen time to our schedule).

Whether you're looking for simple alternatives to P.E. and sports or simply need fun ways to help your child burn off energy after a day of socially distanced school, Nike's PLAYlist is a fun, kid-friendly way to get everyone moving.

Need more movement inspiration for fall? Here are 5 ways my family is getting up and getting active this season:

1. Go apple picking.

Truly, it doesn't really feel like fall until we've picked our first apple. (Or had our first bite of apple cider donut!) Need to burn off that extra cinnamon-sugar energy? Declare a quick relay race up the orchard aisle—winner gets first to pick of apples at home.

To wear: These Printed Training Tights are perfect for when even a casual walk turns into a race (and they help my daughter scurry up a branch for the big apples).

2. Visit a pumpkin patch.

We love to pick up a few locally grown pumpkins to decorate or cook with each year. Challenge your child to a "strongman" contest and see who can lift the heaviest pumpkin while you're there.

To wear: Suit up your little one in comfort with this Baby Full Zip Coverall so you're ready for whatever adventures the day brings.

3. Have a nature scavenger hunt.

Scavenger hunts are one of my favorite ways to keep my daughter preoccupied all year long. We love to get outside and search for acorns, leaves and pinecones as part of our homeschool, but it's also just a great way to get her exercising those gross motor skills whenever the wiggles start to build up.

To wear: It's not truly fall until you break out a hoodie. This cozy Therma Elite Kids Hoodie features a mesh overlay to release heat while your child plays.

4. Have a touch-football game.

Tip for parents with very little kids: It doesn't have to last as long as a real football game. 😂 In fact, staging our own mini-games is one of our favorite ways to get everyone up and moving in between quarters during Sunday football, and I promise we all sleep better that night.

To wear: From impromptu games of tag to running through our favorite trails, these kids' Nike Air Zoom Speed running shoes are made to cover ground all season long.

5. Create an indoor obstacle course.

Pretending the floor is lava was just the beginning. See how elaborate your personal course can get, from jumping on the couch to rolling under the coffee table to hopping down the hallway on one foot.

To wear: These ready-for-any-activity Dri-FIT Tempo Shorts are perfect for crawling, hopping and racing—and cuddling up when it's time to rest.

This article was sponsored by Nike. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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Time-saving formula tips our editors swear by

Less time making bottles, more time snuggling.

As a new parent, it can feel like feeding your baby is a full-time job—with a very demanding nightshift. Add in the additional steps it takes to prepare a bottle of formula and, well… we don't blame you if you're eager to save some time when you can. After all, that means more time for snuggling your baby or practicing your own well-deserved self-care.

Here's the upside: Many, many formula-feeding mamas before you have experienced the same thing, and they've developed some excellent tricks that can help you mix up a bottle in record time. Here are the best time-saving formula tips from editors here at Motherly.

1. Use room temperature water

The top suggestion that came up time and time again was to introduce bottles with room temperature water from the beginning. That way, you can make a bottle whenever you need it without worrying about warming up water—which is a total lifesaver when you have to make a bottle on the go or in the middle of the night.

2. Buy online to save shopping time

You'll need a lot of formula throughout the first year and beyond—so finding a brand like Comforts, which offers high-quality infant formula at lower prices, will help you save a substantial amount of money. Not to mention, you can order online or find the formula on shelves during your standard shopping trip—and that'll save you so much time and effort as well.

3. Pre-measure nighttime bottles

The middle of the night is the last time you'll want to spend precious minutes mixing up a bottle. Instead, our editors suggest measuring out the correct amount of powder formula into a bottle and putting the necessary portion of water on your bedside table. That way, all you have to do is roll over and combine the water and formula in the bottle before feeding your baby. Sounds so much better than hiking all the way to the kitchen and back at 3 am, right?

4. Divide serving sizes for outings

Before leaving the house with your baby, divvy up any portions of formula and water that you may need during your outing. Then, when your baby is hungry, just combine the pre-measured water and powder serving in the bottle. Our editors confirm this is much easier than trying to portion out the right amount of water or formula while riding in the car.

5. Memorize the mental math

Soon enough, you'll be able to prepare a bottle in your sleep. But, especially in the beginning or when increasing your baby's serving, the mental math can take a bit of time. If #mombrain makes it tough to commit the measurements to memory, write up a cheat sheet for yourself or anyone else who will prepare your baby's bottle.

6. Warm up chilled formula with water

If you're the savvy kind of mom who prepares and refrigerates bottles for the day in advance, you'll probably want to bring it up to room temperature before serving. Rather than purchase a bottle warmer, our editors say the old-fashioned method works incredibly well: Just plunge the sealed bottle in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes and—voila!—it's ready to serve.



Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on Comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Chrissy Teigen/Instagram

When Chrissy Teigen announced her third pregnancy earlier this year we were so happy for her and now our hearts are with her as she is going through a pain that is unimaginable for many, but one that so many other mothers know.

Halfway through a high-risk pregnancy complicated by placenta issues, Teigen announced late Wednesday that she has suffered a pregnancy loss.

Our deepest condolences go out to Chrissy and her husband, John Legend (who has been by her side in the hospital for several days now).

In a social media post, Teigen explained she named this baby Jack.

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"We are shocked and in the kind of deep pain you only hear about, the kind of pain we've never felt before. We were never able to stop the bleeding and give our baby the fluids he needed, despite bags and bags of blood transfusions. It just wasn't enough," she wrote.

She continued: "We never decide on our babies' names until the last possible moment after they're born, just before we leave the hospital. But we, for some reason, had started to call this little guy in my belly Jack. So he will always be Jack to us. Jack worked so hard to be a part of our little family, and he will be, forever."

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