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: Bblove, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: February 07

I was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome 12 years ago, I had to be on birth control to get pregnant. I have been on metformin and a water pill that keeps potassium in my body, I have lost a goal of 60lbs and have kept it off for over a year and a half. Go see an endocrinologist!

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Comment from: ash2.25.13, 19-24 Female (Patient) Published: March 18

I was diagnosed in August of 2013 with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). After doing research and talking to my doctor, I"ve found the simple things I do daily are the most beneficial. I had to be put on birth control to help regulate and lower the number of cysts, but I also take natural remedies. Most say weight loss and a healthy diet are key. I take cayenne pepper, acai, ginger root (helps prevent ovarian cancer also), ginseng, green tea extract, maca root, cinnamon with chromium, milk thistle, and St. John's wort (helps with the mood swings). All of these are easily obtainable at Walmart or vitamin cottage, basically any grocer or health food store. These have helped me lose weight, have energy, reduce cramping, and all around live healthier. I don"t exercise much other than in my living room with weights or going for walks. I"m a mother, student and full time employee. I can say, just a few minutes of your day, can make a big difference with this. Also if a smoker, I suggest quitting cigarettes, I"ve smoked for 5 years and after I quit, I noticed a significant amount of less cramping and mood swings. I"m not a doctor but I strongly believe in taking care of yourself when the resources are available.

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