Medication for PCOS

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) isn’t curable, but it is treatable, and certain medications can make a big difference for women with the condition. Depending on a woman’s symptoms, she may be prescribed any of the following medications.

Medicine to stimulate ovulation

Women with PCOS don’t always ovulate, and this can pose a problem when they want to become pregnant. Often a woman will start with metformin and clomiphene, two medications that start ovulation in different ways. If these don’t work, she may be given gonadotropin injections, which stimulate the ovaries to produce and release an egg during ovulation.

Birth control for menstrual periods

Various types of hormonal birth control can be prescribed to women who don’t get regular periods. Regardless of whether it’s taken orally, or worn as a patch or ring, hormonal birth control helps to balance a woman’s hormones and allow her to menstruate normally. However, this is only an option for those who are not trying to conceive.

Hormonal supplements for menstrual periods

Some women are unable to take the above types of birth control for various reasons, and might need to receive progesterone injections every few months. These shots aren’t a form of birth control, but they do help women get a period and can help to induce ovulation in women who desire to become pregnant.

Diabetes medication to improve insulin sensitivity

Women with PCOS often have high levels of insulin in their bodies due to insulin resistance. Insulin-resistance medication, such as metformin, help to lower insulin levels by improving the body’s sensitivity to insulin.

It’s believed that high insulin levels contribute to the production of androgens (male hormones) in women with PCOS. These medications help to lower insulin levels, which leads to lower androgen levels and reduces the symptoms of women with PCOS.

Topical creams or medication to reduce physical symptoms

PCOS can cause acne, excessive hair growth, and darkening of the skin in various places. To lower the effects of these symptoms, a doctor might prescribe anti-androgens, hormonal birth control, or topical cream to help decrease acne, slow hair growth, and even out skin tone.

The symptoms of PCOS can vary, and what works for one woman might not work for another. Despite this, the medications listed above have helped many women manage their PCOS symptoms, and should be considered as possible treatments for the condition. Talk with your healthcare provider about your symptoms of PCOS and whether any of the above medications would be helpful in reducing these symptoms.

  • Mayo Clinic Staff. “Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): Treatments and drugs.” MayoClinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, Sep 3 2014. Web.
  • “Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).” Hormone. Endocrine Society, May 2013. Web.
  • Lee Radosh. “Drug Treatments for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.” American Family Physician. 79(8):671-676. Web. Apr 15 2009.
  • “Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) fact sheet.” Womenshealth. Office on Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dec 23 2014. Web.
  • “PCOS Treatments.” PCOSAA. PCOS Awareness Association, 2016. Web.
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