Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) - Treatments

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What treatments are available for PCOS?

Treatment of PCOS depends partially on the woman's stage of life. For younger women who desire birth control, the birth control pill, especially those with low androgenic (male hormone-like) side effects can cause regular periods and prevent the risk of uterine cancer. Another option is intermittent therapy with the hormone progesterone. Progesterone therapy will induce menstrual periods and reduce the risk of uterine cancer, but will not provide contraceptive protection.

For acne or excess hair growth, a water pill (diuretic) called spironolactone (Aldactone) may be prescribed to help reverse these problems. The use of spironolactone requires occasional monitoring of blood tests because of its potential effect on the blood potassium levels and kidney function. Eflornithine (Vaniqa) is a cream medication that can be used to slow facial hair growth in women.Electrolysis and over-the-counter depilatory creams are other options for controlling excess hair growth.

For women who desire pregnancy, a medication called clomiphene (Clomid) can be used to induce ovulation (cause egg production). In addition, weight loss can normalize menstrual cycles and often increases the possibility of pregnancy in women with PCOS. Other, more aggressive, treatments for infertility (including injection of gonadotropin hormones and assisted reproductive technologies) may also be required in women who desire pregnancy and do not become pregnant on Clomid therapy.

Metformin(Glucophage) is a medication used to treat type 2 diabetes. This drug affects the action of insulin and is useful in reducing a number of the symptoms and complications of PCOS. Metformin has been shown to be useful in the management of irregular periods, ovulation induction, weight loss, prevention of type 2 diabetes, and prevention of gestational diabetes mellitus in women with PCOS.

Obesity that occurs with PCOS needs to be treated because it can cause numerous additional medical problems. The management of obesity in PCOS is similar to the management of obesity in general. Weight loss can help reduce or prevent many of the complications associated with PCOS, including type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Consultation with a dietician on a frequent basis is helpful until just the right individualized program is established for each woman.

Finally, a surgical procedure known as ovarian drilling can help induce ovulation in some women who have not responded to other treatments for PCOS. In this procedure a small portion of ovarian tissue is destroyed by an electric current delivered through a needle inserted into the ovary.

Return to Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

See what others are saying

Comment from: Angela, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: July 08

I was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) when I was about 25 or 26 and also found out that my ovaries were enlarged. I had an ovarian wedge resection where they cut part of my ovaries out to get them back down to size. I currently see an endocrinologist and with the medications of metformin, spironolactone, and weight loss of 70 lb. my hormones are under control finally. I am still not pregnant, but working on it.

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Comment from: 25-34 Female (Caregiver) Published: March 04

I would like to thank everyone for their helpful life sharing! I'm a mother of a 15 year old who has been diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome a few months back. The give-away clue was the missing menstruation for months. She has had an approximately 30 lb. weight gain in the past year, facial hair, hand hair and very horrible acne! I'm fortunate that she is such a positive girl and is not letting the disease define her. I have learned that healthy eating will help manage a safer future for her. We thought that we ate very healthy, for the most part we do, (no fast food, not a lot of junk brought into our home) but changing everything white to whole wheat is going to be the difficult part. The sugars are addictive and I'm expecting some resistance to the removal but as a parent it is ultimately my job to help her, at least till eighteen. As of now it took approximately 3 months of blood test, hormone checks, ultrasounds and urine samples before the diagnosis. She has been put on acne/birth control pills called Diane-35 but as of yet no period, so it seems it may be one of those diseases that take some figuring out yet. The doctors say it is one of the younger cases they have seen, so it's very important we are open with our children, able to help early to manage all symptoms easier and I think most importantly the weight before it is out of control! Thanks again and stay positive.

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