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Is PCOS Treatable?

By Anjanette Tan, MD, FACE, ECNU, Yasasvhinie Santharam, BS and Brooke Jeffy, MDMedically reviewed by Anjanette Tan, MD, FACE, ECNU, Dr. Tan is a Board Certified Endocrinologist who is an expert on hormones in PCOS, PCOS diagnosis, PCOS insulin resistance, and PCOS treatment.
5 min read

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, abbreviated as PCOS, is the most common hormonal disorder in females of reproductive age (1). Fortunately, PCOS is very treatable! Females are at higher risk for PCOS if they have family members with PCOS or are obese (2).

PCOS Syndrome

When talking about treating PCOS, you must treat all the different PCOS symptoms that can affect a person. These include insulin resistance, diabetes, weight gain, fertility issues, irregular menstrual cycles, pelvic pain, excessive hair growth (hirsutism), alopecia, acne, acanthosis nigricans (patches of thick, darkened, velvety skin in armpits, neck, and groin), skin tags, and mental health struggles like depression.

Treating PCOS

Treating PCOS involves treating each individual symptom of it from treating the insulin resistance to treating skin changes. Keep reading for more details.

Acne In PCOS Treatment

Treating PCOS acne should start with the basics of good skincare. Cleanse your face twice a day. Also, try using a benzoyl peroxide containing cleanser or a spot treatment cream that has benzoyl peroxide. If unable to tolerate benzoyl peroxide, use a gentle cleanser such as cerave hydrating cleanser or cetaphil gentle skin cleanser. Birth control can be a great treatment through your dermatologist or your gynecologist Some patients can also benefit from treatment with a drug called spironolactone, which also helps with hirsutism. Spironolactone is a great option for PCOS related acne (and really all acne in women). Spironolactone is generally prescribed by a dermatologist. It is great for adult women but can be used in adolescence as well. Patients who are also on medication for high blood pressure should discuss this with their doctor, and there may be a need to monitor potassium in women who are on this drug. Spironolactone should be avoided pregnancy.  

Lifestyle Modification

In PCOS weight gain, the first step to battle this is exercise and calorie-restrictive diets. This will help patients with weight loss and will also help with insulin resistance.

Hormonal Contraceptives

Your doctor may recommend a hormonal contraceptive for helping with PCOS because they have been shown to help keep the acne, irregular menstrual periods, and hirsutism under control. According to the Endocrine Society, there’s no particular form of hormonal contraceptive that’s best overall. So, you will work with your doctor to figure out which form of hormonal contraceptives are best for your body.

PCOS Metformin Treatment 

Metformin is given to PCOS patients who may have Type II Diabetes or insulin resistance that doesn’t adjust with lifestyle modifications. It also helps with improving menstrual cycles.

PCOS Treatment For Infertility 

Related: Birth Control Acne Improvement 

Infertility treatments can be given to patients whose PCOS has impacted their fertility, if they wish to have children. Patients can work with their primary care physicians, endocrinologists, and also REIs (reproductive endocrinology and infertility physicians) to determine the best course of treatment.

How Do You Know If You Have PCOS?

Since the symptoms of PCOS can potentially overlap with other endocrine and non-endocrine causes, the best way to know if you have PCOS is to visit your primary care physician or an endocrinologist. By reviewing your blood work, insulin levels, and listening to your history, they can accurately diagnose and recommend a plan of care or follow-up.

Check out How to know if you have PCOS for more

 

Is PCOS Curable?

PCOS is not curable but it can be treated. PCOS is treated differently in each individual, depending on the cause and severity. Your primary care physician or endocrinologist will obtain your medical history, blood tests and possibly ovary ultrasound imaging to recommend a plan of care.

 

Is PCOS Treatable? : Take Home Points

PCOS is a challenging condition that affects many persons, but it is treatable. Because it affects so many different parts of your body, treatment usually involves input and opinions from multiple doctors including your Ob-Gyn, an endocrinologist, a dermatologist, and also possibly a mental health professional.

Sources:

  1. Rasquin Leon LI, Anastasopoulou C, Mayrin JV. Polycystic Ovarian Disease. [Updated 2021 Jul 21]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK459251/
  2. https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/pcos/conditioninfo/causes
  3. Ndefo, U. A., Eaton, A., & Green, M. R. (2013). Polycystic ovary syndrome: a review of treatment options with a focus on pharmacological approaches. P & T : a peer-reviewed journal for formulary management, 38(6), 336–355.
  4. Kim, J. J., & Choi, Y. M. (2013). Dyslipidemia in women with polycystic ovary syndrome. Obstetrics & gynecology science, 56(3), 137–142. https://doi.org/10.5468/ogs.2013.56.3.137
  5. Barber, T. M., Hanson, P., Weickert, M. O., & Franks, S. (2019). Obesity and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: Implications for Pathogenesis and Novel Management Strategies. Clinical medicine insights. Reproductive health, 13, 1179558119874042. https://doi.org/10.1177/1179558119874042
  6. Robert A. Wild, Enrico Carmina, Evanthia Diamanti-Kandarakis, Anuja Dokras, Hector F. Escobar-Morreale, Walter Futterweit, Rogerio Lobo, Robert J. Norman, Evelyn Talbott, Daniel A. Dumesic, Assessment of Cardiovascular Risk and Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease in Women with the Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: A Consensus Statement by the Androgen Excess and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (AE-PCOS) Society, The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, Volume 95, Issue 5, 1 May 2010, Pages 2038–2049, https://doi.org/10.1210/jc.2009-2724
  7. Spritzer PM, Lisboa KO, Mattiello S, Lhullier F. Spironolactone as a single agent for long-term therapy of hirsute patients. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2000 May;52(5):587-94. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1046/j.1365-2265.2000.00982.x
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