Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder common in women who are of reproductive age; it’s caused by high levels of insulin or androgens. The condition can lead to a number of complications, the more serious of which include infertility and endometrial cancer. So, what can be done if you’re diagnosed with PCOS?
The Mayo Clinic explains that everyone’s PCOS treatment plan is tailored to fit their particular worries, which can vary from infertility to acne or hirsutism (aka male-pattern hair growth).
To help you ovulate, your doctor may suggest:
- Femara (letrozole), which is a breast cancer treatment that can stimulate the ovaries.
- Gonadotropins, which are hormones administered via injection.
- Clomid (clomiphene), an anti-estrogen medication that’s taken orally during the first part of a menstrual cycle.
- Glucophage, Fortamet, etc (metformin), are types of oral medications typically given to people with type 2 diabetes to lower insulin levels and improve insulin resistance. Your doctor may recommend its addition if you don’t get pregnant with the help of Clomid.
To curb hirsutism, your doctor may suggest:
- Electrolysis, or laser hair removal.
- Vaniqa (elfornithine), a cream that can slow facial hair growth.
- Birth control pills, which lower the production of androgens, which may lead to hirsutism.
- Aldactone (spironolactone), a medication that blocks the effect androgen has on the skin; it can, however, cause birth defects, so it isn’t recommended for women who are pregnant or trying to conceive.
To regulate your menstrual cycle, your doctor may suggest:
- Progestin therapy: this involves taking progestin for 10-14 days every 1-2 months, which can not only regulate your menstrual cycle but also protect against the development of endometrial cancer. It doesn’t, however, prevent pregnancy or improve androgen levels.
- Combination birth control pills, which decrease androgen production, contain progestin and estrogen, and regulate estrogen. Regulating hormone levels can correct abnormal bleeding, acne, as well as excess hair growth, while also decreasing your risk of endometrial cancer. You may also use a vaginal ring or skin patch that has the same effect.
Your doctor may also recommend lifestyle changes, such as weight loss via moderate exercise in conjunction with a low-calorie diet. Even a modest amount of weight loss could improve PCOS, while also making any medications you’re on more effective; it may also help boost your fertility. Several of the Ezra scans may help screen you for PCOS; you may learn more about our screening options here.