The GoodRx Prescription Savings Blog

The latest updates on prescription drugs and ways to save from the GoodRx medical team

How Do You Treat Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)?

by Dr. Sharon Orrange on January 8, 2014 at 2:03 pm

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common cause of acne, irregular periods, and infertility in women. And don’t forget about excess hair growth, which also comes along with PCOS.

Diagnosing PCOS is tricky and not clear cut. Many people believe you must have the presence of polycystic ovaries (on ultrasound) to make the diagnosis, but this is not true for postmenopausal women. Also, skipping periods and having polycystic ovaries (multiple cysts) isn’t enough, as you must also have signs of hyperandrogenism (excess hair growth and/or acne).

If you do have those symptoms (irregular periods, acne, or excess hair growth and polycystic ovaries) you should see your doctor to rule out other things. Know this:

  •  Women suspected of having PCOS should have blood tests for thyroid disease, prolactin, and 17 hydroxyprogesterone to rule out other causes of their irregular periods, acne, and excess hair growth.

  •  Women diagnosed with PCOS should undergo screening tests for diabetes and should be screened for depression. Diabetes screening should occur every 3 to 5 years after a normal result.

Ok you have PCOS, now what? Here is how we treat PCOS:

1.  Hormonal contraceptives are the first-line treatment of anovulatory symptoms (skipped and irregular periods) and hirsutism (excess hair) in PCOS. There is no recommendation for one type of pill vs another.

2.  Metformin should be used in cases of PCOS featuring diabetes or glucose intolerance (an elevated fasting blood sugar). It is a second-line drug for women with menstrual irregularities who cannot tolerate hormonal contraceptives.

3.  Weight loss will improve reproductive outcomes in PCOS, so weight loss may improve your fertility if you have PCOS.

4.  If you have PCOS and you want to get pregnant, Clomid is the first-line treatment of anovulatory (irregular periods from not ovulating) infertility among women with PCOS.

5.  Actos (a thiazolidinedione) is not recommended for the treatment of PCOS because of safety concerns. Years ago this was widely used; that is no longer the case.

With good treatment periods can be regulated, sugars and skin improved, and chances of conceiving increased. So ask about it.

Dr O.

Copyright ©2015 GoodRx, Inc.

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. GoodRx is not offering advice, recommending or endorsing any specific prescription drug, pharmacy or other information on the site. GoodRx provides no warranty for any of the pricing data or other information. Please seek medical advice before starting, changing or terminating any medical treatment. Third party logos, trademarks, brand names and images contained on are for demonstration purposes only and are owned by their respective rights holders, who are not affiliated with this Site.