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How do medications treat polycystic ovary syndrome?

Jessica A. Shepherd, MD
OBGYN (Obstetrics & Gynecology)
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) can be managed with medications, including oral contraceptives and insulin sensitizing agents. In this video, I will discuss how these medications work to treat the symptoms of PCOS.
Mark Perloe, MD
Reproductive Endocrinology
The first step to managing PCOS is to address insulin resistance. This is addressed by low glycemic diet, excercise, and an insulin sensitizer. Insulin sensitizers such as metformin or thiazolidinediones such as pioglitzone can restore the normal insulin/glucose metabolism and reduce ovarian production of male hormones. These medications may also reduce cholesterol levels and blood pressure in many women with PCOS.

The use of birth control pills may reduce the symptoms associated with PCOS, the oral contraceptive rarely reduces obesity, elevated cholesterol and triglycerides and hypertension which often accompany this condition.

Many women with PCOS have infrequent menstrual periods and may be a risk of endometrial cancer. In that case, the periodic use of progesterone or birth control pills to stimulate a regular menstrual bleed may be protective. But be aware that progesterone and birth control pills does not treat the underlying insulin resistance that causes this condition.
Medications like oral contraceptives and oral anti-estrogens work to deter polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Oral contraceptives help to control your androgen levels and lower your risk of cysts, bleeding, and cancer. Oral contraceptives can also help to block the androgen levels from growing extra hair on the face and body. Oral anti-androgen medications are not FDA-approved to treat PCOS but are effective in treating excess hair. In addition to these medications, your doctor may prescribe medication to manage coincidental diabetes

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.