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Women's Health

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Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) - Treatment Overview

Regular exercise, a healthy diet, weight control, and not smoking are all important parts of treatment for polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). You may also take medicine to balance your hormones.

Treatments depend on your symptoms and whether you are planning a pregnancy.

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There is no cure for PCOS, but controlling it lowers your risks of infertility, miscarriages, diabetes, heart disease, and uterine cancer.

Healthy lifestyle

  • If you are overweight, weight loss may be all the treatment you need. A small amount of weight loss is likely to help balance your hormones and start up your menstrual cycle and ovulation.
  • Eat a balanced diet that includes lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products.
  • Get regular exercise to help you control or lose weight and feel better.
  • If you smoke, consider quitting. Women who smoke have higher levels of androgens than women who don't smoke.1

For more information, see Home Treatment.

Hormone therapy

If weight loss alone doesn't start ovulation (or if you don't need to lose weight), your doctor may have you try a medicine such as metformin or clomiphene to help you start to ovulate.

If you aren't planning a pregnancy, you can also use hormone therapy to help control your ovary hormones. To correct menstrual cycle problems, birth control hormones keep your endometrial lining from building up for too long. This can prevent uterine cancer.

Hormone therapy also can help with male-type hair growth and acne. Birth control pills, patches, or vaginal rings are prescribed for hormone therapy. Androgen-lowering spironolactone (Aldactone) is often used with combined hormonal birth control. This helps with hair loss, acne, and male-pattern hair growth on the face and body (hirsutism).

You can use other methods to treat acne and remove excess hair. For more information, see Home Treatment.

Taking hormones doesn't help with heart, blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes risks. This is why exercise and a healthy diet are key parts of your treatment.

To learn more about hormones, see Medications.

If weight loss and medicine don't restart ovulation, you may want to try other treatments. For more information, see the topic Fertility Problems.

Regular checkups

Regular checkups are important for catching any PCOS complications, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, uterine cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: March 26, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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