Since PCOS is not a disease per se, treatment is targeted more towards prevention of long-term problems such as diabetes and heart disease as well as towards managing symptoms. You and your doctor will work together to decide how to best treat and manage your condition. Some of these treatments include:
Birth control pills: Oral contraceptives contain female hormones that can help treat the problem of irregular menstrual cycles and lower levels of androgens (male hormones).
Insulin-sensitizing medications: Since there is a close connection between PCOS and diabetes, some women have been successful at treating their PCOS symptoms with medications used to treat diabetes. Metformin (Glucophage) is often prescribed by doctors to help the body use insulin more effectively, thus lowering insulin levels. Insulin-sensitizing medications have also been shown to help lower androgen levels and establish a regular menstrual cycle.
Infertility: For women who are concerned with fertility and are trying to get pregnant, certain hormone treatments can be used to induce ovulation. One common medication is clomiphene citrate (Clomid, Serphene, Milophene).
Overweight: A healthy diet, particularly limiting manufactured carbohydrates (cereals, breads, pastas), is recommended. Manufactured carbohydrates may be replaced with healthier carbohydrates such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Also, your diet should include enough protein to control the amount of sugar in your blood.
Even a small amount of weight loss can significantly reduce PCOS symptoms and the risk of diabetes and heart disease. Daily physical activity can help the body use insulin better and help you to lose and keep off weight.
Excessive hair growth: Several methods can be used to physically remove or lighten excess hair. Methods like shaving, chemical depilation, waxing, bleaching, electrolysis, laser hair removal and creams like eflornithine (Vaniqua) can be tried. These methods can be used in conjunction with medications like birth control pills and anti-androgens like spironolactone (aldactone).
Scalp hair loss: To treat thinning hair, minoxidil (Rogaine) and spironolactone (aldactone) are sometimes used in women with PCOS. Hair weaves, extensions, and even surgical treatment are other solutions for women with serious hair loss. Surgical options include hair transplantation and scalp reduction.
Acne: Treatments sold over the counter can help control skin blemishes that can arrive with PCOS.