ZocdocAnswersWhat sort of treatment is available to women who have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)?

Question

What sort of treatment is available to women who have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)?

I am a 25 year old woman who has been struggling with PCOS since I was a teenager. I have darkened skin in what should be sensitive skin areas, it seems nearly impossible for me to lose weight, my hair grows at an abnormal rate and I have very dark facial hair. I have tried taking chromium pills and have tried virtually every diet I can get my hands on, but have not found anything that works for me at all.

Answer

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a complex disease and an area of active research in medicine. Though, the exact cause of PCOS is not entirely known, one of the basic features of it is an imbalance of hormones, particularly an increase in male hormones or androgens. These changes are associated with weight gain, skin changes, infertility, and insulin resistance among others. As you have already hinted, the first and best treatment for PCOS is weight loss, though this can be quite challenging. However, if you are not trying to become pregnant, oral contraceptives are a good treatment to help normalize hormones, menstrual cycles and decrease the abnormal growth of hair. Metformin, a medication used in diabetes can also be helpful to treat insulin resistance and has the added benefit of sometimes aiding weight loss and improving menstrual cycles. Another medication, spironolatone which is commonly used as a diuretic, also has anti-androgenic properties and can also help normalize hormone levels and decrease abnormal hair growth. Finally, laser hair treatments and prescription creams can treat the hair growth. As you can see there are many treatments available. Your primary care physician can discuss the best ways to help improve your symptoms and help you find treatments that are right for you. Good luck!

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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