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Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Treatment Overview

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Treating polycystic ovary syndrome

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which causes elevated levels of male hormones in women, should always be managed by a healthcare provider. High testosterone in women leads to a range of symptoms and potential complications like irregular menstrual cycles, excess growth of body hair (hirsutism), infertility, and increased risk of obesity, diabetes, and high cholesterol.

PCOS treatment requires a combination of lifestyle changes and doctor-prescribed medications to both lower testosterone levels and treat your specific symptoms. It’s best to work with a healthcare provider to create a treatment plan based on your risks and symptoms.

Lifestyle changes include:

  • Losing weight through diet and exercise
  • Managing blood sugar levels if you have prediabetes or diabetes

How to treat PCOS

If you have PCOS, your doctor will probably recommend that you take birth control pills, unless you cannot take them for health reasons or you are trying to get pregnant. While birth control pills can help you not get pregnant, they also reduce testosterone levels, help regulate your periods, and prevent abnormal thickening of the uterine wall. Women trying to get pregnant may be prescribed other medications that reduce male hormone levels.

Your doctor will also monitor you over the long term for other disorders like diabetes and high cholesterol, and will prescribe medications for these conditions if necessary. They may also check you for other conditions related to PCOS like sleep apnea and mood disorders.

Medical tests & labs

PCOS is diagnosed based on your symptoms. Sometimes your doctor may order blood tests to check for other conditions with similar symptoms like hypothyroidism, elevated prolactin, or premature menopause. Your doctor may recommend an ultrasound of the ovaries to help confirm the diagnosis, but it is not necessary to make the diagnosis.

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