So you’ve had a diagnosis and now it’s time to look at your treatment options.
There is no single treatment which will cure PCOS but you can find treatments for the individual symptoms. If your BMI is over 30 your doctor will probably advise you to work on losing weight and getting your BMI down through changes in your nutrition and exercise. Losing weight with PCOS can be a difficult experience but can help to regulate ovulation and reduce risks associated with insulin resistance and the development of type 2 diabetes.
Your treatment will be unique to you and advocating for your treatment options will ensure you’re clued up about your body and in tune with any subtle changes.
Treatment for Irregular Periods
The contraceptive pill is usually the first recommendation to help induce regular periods but always check your options around which pill might be best for you or other contraceptive methods which may be best for your body. Periods can also be induced using an intermittent course of progestogen tablets (which are usually given every 3 to 4 months, but can be given monthly).
Kick starting your periods and regular ovulation will also reduce the long-term risk of developing cancer of the womb lining (endometrial cancer) which is associated with irregular periods.
Other hormonal methods of contraception, such as an intrauterine system (IUS), can also help reduce the risk by keeping your womb lining thin, but they may not induce your period.
If you’re worried about excessive hair growth (hirsutism) and hair loss (alopecia) there are a number of treatment options to help with this:
Some combined oral contraceptive such as co-cyprindiol, Dianette, Marvelon and Yasmin may be offered as a treatment option to help with symptoms of excess hair growth.
The following medications may be offered to you to help block the effects of hormones such as testosterone and working to suppress the over production of these hormones in the ovaries
If you’d prefer to explore non hormonal methods of treatment there is a cream called eflornithine which can also be used to slow down the growth of unwanted facial hair. It won’t remove hair like popular hair removal treatments or cure unwanted facial hair, so you may wish to use it alongside a hair removal product. Improvement in the visible appearance of excess hair is usually seen 4 to 8 weeks after treatment.
Eflornithine cream is not always available on the NHS because some local NHS authorities have decided it's not effective enough to justify NHS prescription.
If you have unwanted hair growth, you may also want to remove the excess hair by using methods such as plucking, shaving, threading, creams or laser removal. Laser removal of facial hair may be available on the NHS in some parts of the UK but check with your consultant or GP.
Alternatively you may want to rock that facial hair with full body confidence because your self worth isn’t defined by the way you look or how others perceive you it’s based upon your ability to accept and fully love yourself.
Treatment for acne depends on how severe it is. It can take several months of treatment before acne symptoms improve.
If you just have a few blackheads, whiteheads and spots, a pharmacist should be able to advise you on how to treat them successfully with over-the-counter gels or creams (topical treatments) that contain benzoyl peroxide. Changes to your diet or hair products can also help to reduce excess oil on the skin which can lead to acne.
Treatments from your GP
Prescription medications that can be used to treat acne include:
in women, the combined oral contraceptive pill
If you have severe acne, your GP can refer you to a dermatologist who specialises in treating conditions affecting the skin. If you’re extremely concerned about your acne you can also use the NHS website to look for a list of dermatologists in your area and find one you’d like to be referred to.
It's important to know that the progestogen-only pill or contraceptive implant can sometimes make acne worse.
Many of these treatments can take 2 to 3 months before they start to work. It’s important to be patient and persist with a recommended treatment, even if there’s no immediate effect.
Trying to Conceive
Trying to conceive can be an emotionally taxing and difficult experience with many there are a number of different medicines that help with conceiving if you have PCOS.
- clomifene citrate (the best known brand in the UK is Clomid) – this stimulates your ovaries to release eggs
- metformin is used to correct insulin resistance, which may also be present if you have PCOS
- in some cases you could be offered a combination of the two.
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