Doctor's Responses Archive

Viewer Question

Is Polycystic Ovarian Disease correctable? Do birth control pills help?
Signed, SU

Doctor's Answer

Polycystic Ovarian Disease (PCO) is unfortunately not "correctable" at this time. Although it is obviously easier said than done, research has shown very strongly that for women with significant PCO problems, weight loss is the best therapy. This is because the insulin resistance problems and the increased testosterone (male hormone) levels of PCO are greatly alleviated by weight loss, even weight loss of only 5% of body weight. PCO is a group of symptoms that commonly occur together, and because there is no single cure for all of the symptoms, the symptoms are treated individually.

The oral contraceptive pill, besides offering contraception, can help decrease acne, help control irregular periods, decrease unwanted hair growth (which requires several months of therapy), greatly improve risky cholesterol panels, and decrease the risk of endometrial cancer which is otherwise elevated in women with PCO. Therefore, because it brings relief for a long list of symptoms associated with PCO, oral contraceptive pills are a very attractive option for many with PCO.

Thank you for your question.

Carolyn Janet Crandall, M.D.
Editor:
William Shiel, MD, FACP, FACR

Last Editorial Review: 7/8/2004