Treatment

PCOS treatment focuses on managing your individual concerns, such as infertility, hirsutism, acne or obesity. Specific treatment might involve lifestyle changes or medication.

Lifestyle changes

Your doctor may recommend weight loss through a low-calorie diet combined with moderate exercise activities. Even a modest reduction in your weight — for example, losing 5 percent of your body weight — might improve your condition. Losing weight may also increase the effectiveness of medications your doctor recommends for PCOS, and can help with infertility.

Medications

To regulate your menstrual cycle, your doctor might recommend:

  • Combination birth control pills. Pills that contain estrogen and progestin decrease androgen production and regulate estrogen. Regulating your hormones can lower your risk of endometrial cancer and correct abnormal bleeding, excess hair growth and acne. Instead of pills, you might use a skin patch or vaginal ring that contains a combination of estrogen and progestin.
  • Progestin therapy. Taking progestin for 10 to 14 days every one to two months can regulate your periods and protect against endometrial cancer. Progestin therapy doesn't improve androgen levels and won't prevent pregnancy. The progestin-only minipill or progestin-containing intrauterine device is a better choice if you also wish to avoid pregnancy.

To help you ovulate, your doctor might recommend:

  • Clomiphene (Clomid). This oral anti-estrogen medication is taken during the first part of your menstrual cycle.
  • Letrozole (Femara). This breast cancer treatment can work to stimulate the ovaries.
  • Metformin (Glucophage, Fortamet, others). This oral medication for type 2 diabetes improves insulin resistance and lowers insulin levels. If you don't become pregnant using clomiphene, your doctor might recommend adding metformin. If you have prediabetes, metformin can also slow the progression to type 2 diabetes and help with weight loss.
  • Gonadotropins. These hormone medications are given by injection.

To reduce excessive hair growth, your doctor might recommend:

  • Birth control pills. These pills decrease androgen production that can cause excessive hair growth.
  • Spironolactone (Aldactone). This medication blocks the effects of androgen on the skin. Spironolactone can cause birth defect, so effective contraception is required while taking this medication. It isn't recommended if you're pregnant or planning to become pregnant.
  • Eflornithine (Vaniqa). This cream can slow facial hair growth in women.
  • Electrolysis. A tiny needle is inserted into each hair follicle. The needle emits a pulse of electric current to damage and eventually destroy the follicle. You might need multiple treatments.
July 26, 2017
References
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  3. Barbieri RL, et al. Clinical manifestations of polycystic ovary syndrome in adults. https://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed April 27, 2017.
  4. Jameson JL, et al., eds. Hyperandrogenism, hirsutism, and polycystic ovary syndrome. In: Endocrinology: Adult and Pediatric. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2016. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed April 27, 2017.
  5. Barbieri RL, et al. Treatment of polycystic ovary syndrome in adults. https://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed April 27, 2017.
  6. Barbieri RL, et al. Diagnosis of polycystic ovary syndrome in adults. https://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed April 27, 2017.
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  9. Lobo RA, et al. Anatomic defects of the abdominal wall and pelvic floor: Abdominal hernias, inguinal hernias, and pelvic organ prolapse: Diagnosis and management. In: Comprehensive Gynecology. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Elsevier; 2017. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed April 28, 2017.
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