Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a condition that affects a woman’s hormone levels.
Women with PCOS produce higher-than-normal amounts of male hormones. This hormone imbalance causes their body to skip menstrual periods and makes it harder for them to get pregnant.
See your doctor if:
- You’ve missed periods, and you’re not pregnant.
- You have symptoms of PCOS, such as hair growth on your face and body.
- You’ve been trying to get pregnant for more than 12 months but haven’t been successful.
- You have symptoms of diabetes, such as excess thirst or hunger, blurred vision, or unexplained weight loss.
- If your periods are already irregular or absent and you’re trying to get pregnant, do not wait 12 months to see a specialist to be evaluated.
Also, keep in mind that if you do not wish to get pregnant, irregular or absent periods are not birth control in themselves.
It may still be possible to get pregnant even under these conditions. It’s best to use contraception in this case even if you have PCOS.
If you have PCOS, plan regular visits with your primary care doctor. You’ll need regular tests to check for diabetes, high blood pressure, and other possible complications.
Birth control pills and other medications can help regulate the menstrual cycle and treat PCOS symptoms like hair growth and acne.
Taking progestin daily can:
- restore a normal hormone balance
- regulate ovulation
- relieve symptoms like excess hair growth
- protect against endometrial cancer
- These hormones come in a pill, patch, or vaginal ring.
Metformin (Glucophage, Fortamet) is a drug used to treat type 2 diabetes. It also treats PCOS by improving insulin levels.
One study found that taking metformin while making changes to diet and exercise improves weight loss, lowers blood sugar, and restores a normal menstrual cycle better than changes to diet and exercise alone.
Clomiphene (Clomid) is a fertility drug that can help women with PCOS get pregnant.
It’s important to note that, as you’re discussing family planning, to keep in mind that clomiphene increases the chances for twins and other multiple births.
Hair Removal Medications
A few treatments can help get rid of unwanted hair or stop it from growing.
Eflornithine (Vaniqa) cream is a prescription drug that slows hair growth. Laser hair removal and electrolysis can get rid of unwanted hair on your face and body.
Surgery can be an option to improve fertility if other treatments don’t work. Ovarian drilling is a procedure that makes tiny holes in the ovary with a laser or thin heated needle to restore normal ovulation.
Birth control pills and the diabetes drug metformin can help bring back a normal menstrual cycle. Clomiphene and surgery improve fertility in women with PCOS. Hair removal medications can help women remove unwanted hair.