Discover the Latest PCOS Treatment
Hoping to learn more about polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) treatment? We share the latest on polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) treatments today—from diets and medications that help you manage your weight, to hormones to regulate ovulation and your menstrual cycle, to fertility drugs that can help you get pregnant.
PCOS and ovulation
Clomiphene citrate (Clomid) is probably is the first-line PCOS treatment for women who want to get pregnant. In comparison to other options, this fertility drug is quite safe, inexpensive, easy to use and offers a chance of pregnancy in the initial months of use.
Clomid is not a hormone. Rather, it’s a synthetic “anti”-estrogen that tricks the body’s regulatory mechanisms into thinking that more estrogen is needed. Except under very specific circumstances, Clomid therapy should not be used for more than six months. Over 70 percent of pregnancies are achieved during the first 3 months of use.
If Clomid doesn’t work, gonadotropin therapy might be recommended as another PCOS treatment. Gonadotropin therapy is expensive and may cause uncomfortable side effects, but it is successful in inducing ovulation for some women.
Ovarian drilling is yet another way to induce ovulation. However, this treatment may cause side effects that could potentially inhibit fertility.
Weight loss as a PCOS treatment
Weight loss is a commonly-prescribed treatment for women with PCOS. The benefits of weight loss for PCOS include the following:
- Balancing your hormones
- Regulating your menstrual cycle
- Reducing the chances of having insulin-related problems
If you are significantly overweight, weight loss can help you improve your overall health and may even boost fertility.
How do you know if you need to lose weight? One way to make sure you are at a healthy weight is to know your body mass index (BMI), which is based on your height and weight. The ideal BMI to strive for is between 18-25.
A variety of PCOS weight loss methods exist. Some women take medications, adjust caloric intake, increase exercise, or use the latest surgical methods like gastric bypass surgery or laparoscopic banding (lap band surgery). Some doctors recommend a low-carb/high protein diet to help with weight loss and to reduce the amount of circulating insulin.
Birth control pills and PCOS
If you have PCOS and do not want to get pregnant, oral contraceptives may help to balance your hormones. Women opting for this form of PCOS treatment benefit from more regular menstrual cycles and clearer skin. In addition, excess body hair growth often stabilizes when taking birth control pills. If you have no symptoms of excess hair or acne, progesterone-only pills may help to regulate your periods.
Skin problems and hair growth
Androgens are male hormones that are often found in high amounts in women with PCOS. High levels of these hormones may result in the growth of excess body and facial hair in women (called hirsutism), as well as acne. Some treatments, like diuretics (spironolactone), may help to reduce this excessive hair growth and even clear up skin problems.
Please note that some of these PCOS treatments can only be taken if you are not trying to get pregnant. If you are trying to get pregnant, you may opt for electrolysis and laser hair removal to help with excess hair growth. Bleach creams, waxes, and other hair removal systems may also be desirable.
PCOS and insulin
Many women with PCOS have insulin resistance (IR), which can lead to type 2 diabetes and other chronic medical problems. Some doctors prescribe a PCOS treatment called metformin to help regulate insulin and blood glucose levels and even reduce testosterone production.
Results now seem conclusive that metformin can improve ovarian function and increase fertility. In fact, metformin may be used before other fertility agents are tried or in combination with them.
Ask your doctor about PCOS treatment
Your doctor can recommend the safest and most effective PCOS treatments that will work best for you. Depending on your situation and when you want to get pregnant, your doctor will formulate a plan that lets you manage PCOS and optimize your fertility.
- American Society of Reproductive Medicine: Patient's Fact Sheet: Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.
- American Society of Reproductive Medicine: Hirsutism and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome: A Guide for Patients.
- American Pregnancy Association: Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.
- NIH: Calculate your Body Mass Index
- Womenshealth.gov: Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).