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How Can You Treat PCOS?

Updated: Mar 19, 2023

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is an endocrine disease in which there are problems with the synthesis or release of hormones in women. One in every 10 women of reproductive age has PCOS, making it one of the most widespread ailments. You may experience a variety of symptoms if you have PCOS, including mood swings, weight gain or loss, and menstrual cycle disturbances.

Although there is no cure for PCOS, most symptoms can be treated with medicine, including several hormonal birth control strategies. We've also covered how to treat PCOS by using hormonal contraceptives like the pill, patch, and other methods.

PCOS and Birth Control: The Basics

  • There is presently no cure for polycystic ovary syndrome. Some forms of contraception, on the other hand, can help to reduce androgen levels and alleviate symptoms.

  • If you have PCOS, hormonal birth control can help get your period on track.

  • Several other types of hormonal birth control, including the pill, can assist with PCOS symptoms. The injection, implant, and IUD are also used to treat PCOS.

  • Non-hormonal birth control, such as condoms, will not have an impact on your hormones and will have no impact on PCOS symptoms.

  • Other therapies for PCOS are available in addition to hormonal contraception. You may require a different form of medicine or modify your lifestyle, diet, and/or activity in order to get rid of the condition.

What Is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)?

The hormone cystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, is a disease of women's ovaries and adrenal glands. When a woman's ovaries or adrenal glands produce too much male sex hormones, commonly known as androgens, this condition develops. Infertility can result from this excessive production of androgens.Ovulation may be difficult for women who have PCOS. Your cycle might come on time or later than usual, or you may only get a few per year. For several months at a time, you may cease to menstruate completely. High androgen levels are largely to blame for most PCOS symptoms. In addition to a period that is irregular, other typical signs of PCOS include the following:

  • Acne. Acne is a common problem among women with PCOS. This occurs as a result of an increase in sebum production, which is a frequent side effect of high androgen levels.

  • Excessive body hair growth. Many women who have PCOs get hirsutism, which is an undesirable form of excessive hair growth on the face, chest, and back.

  • Thinning hair and/or hair loss. Hair loss or thinning can be a symptom of increased androgen production in PCOS.

  • Darkening of the skin. Women who use hormonal contraceptives may notice a darkening of certain patches of skin, such as armpits, breasts, neck and groin creases.

  • Weight gain. Weight gain is common among women with PCOS, while weight loss may be difficult.

  • Skin tags. Skin tags are little skin-colored growths that may develop in any part of the body. They can form in specific regions of the skin, including the armpits and around the neck.

PCOS may cause cysts to form on your ovaries as a consequence of its influence on your menstrual cycle. You may not be able to get pregnant if you don't have your period any more. PCOS affects women of childbearing age, with most cases occurring between the ages of 15 and 44. Many women with PCOS first realize symptoms in their 20s or 30s, frequently after struggling to conceive. Researchers aren't yet certain why PCOS develops, although some factors seem to be involved, including excessive insulin production, androgens, genetics, and low-grade inflammation.

Treating PCOS Using Birth Control

While birth control does not cure polycystic ovary syndrome, certain hormonal types of birth control may help to manage and alleviate PCOS symptoms. The most frequently used form of birth control is the pill. If you have PCOS, taking a birth control pill can aid in the relief of symptoms and make life with PCOS considerably easier.

Synthetic versions of the hormones progestin and estrogen are found in most birth control pills taken by women with PCOS. Some combination pills, for example, can help prevent acne breakouts.

In certain cases, a combination pill may not be the best option for you. If you're over 35, smoke, or are sensitive to estrogen's effects, your doctor may prescribe a progestin-only birth control pill (or "mini-pill") instead.

PCOS can be treated with a number of hormonal birth control methods. For example, the patch, ring (NuvaRing®), shot (Depo-Provera®) and hormonal IUD (Mirena®) are all options for treating PCOS symptoms. Although most women choose to use the combination birth control pill, there is no "perfect" birth control option for everyone.

Non-hormonal birth control methods, such as the copper IUD, sponge, diaphragm, and condoms, do not work against the androgen hormones that cause PCOS and have no effect on PCOS symptoms.

Other Medications for Treating PCOS

Various medicines are often used to treat PCOS in addition to hormonal forms of birth control. These include the following:

  • Anti-androgens. Medications that block the effects of androgen hormones or assist in the reduction of androgen levels are frequently used off-label to help cure some PCOS symptoms.

  • The use of anti-androgens, which act against male hormones, can help to manage facial and bodily hair growth, androgen-related hair loss, and acne associated with PCOS. Because anti-androgens might result in birth defects, you'll need to use a form of birth control if you're given this medication.

  • Metformin. Metformin, a drug that's commonly used to treat diabetes, can reduce your body's production of insulin and certain androgen hormones, both of which contribute to PCOS symptoms.

  • Metformin has not been approved by the FDA to treat polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), although it is sometimes given as an off-label treatment for symptoms and ovulation recovery. It may also aid in weight and cholesterol reduction.

Other Steps You Can Take to Treat PCOS

If you have PCOS, it's critical to discuss birth control or a different type of medication with your doctor. Medications can be quite effective at controlling PCOS symptoms and improving your quality of life when used as directed. You may also want to attempt the following strategies to help you manage your PCOS problems:

  • Maintain a healthy body weight. Make an effort to attain a healthy body weight if you're overweight now. Losing weight might help you have a more regular menstrual cycle and alleviate PCOS symptoms.

  • Try to exercise regularly. Regular exercise might help to relieve some PCOS symptoms. Even if it's only a little walk, try to exercise on a regular basis since this can aid in lowering blood sugar levels, keeping you at a healthy weight, and alleviating depression that is sometimes associated with PCOS.

  • Avoid simple sugars and carbohydrates. Diets high in simple sugars can raise insulin levels and exacerbate PCOS symptoms. Consider speaking with your doctor about a diet that is low in simple carbohydrates.

  • Use hair removal products. If you have persistent polycystic ovary syndrome and find that your face or body hair is growing, consider utilizing hair removal creams or medications like eflornithine HCl to get rid of unwanted hair and slow down future growth.


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