Treatment for PCOS usually starts with lifestyle changes like weight loss, diet, and exercise.
Losing just 5 to 10 percent of your body weight can help regulate your menstrual cycle and improve PCOS symptoms. Weight loss can also:
- improve cholesterol levels
- lower insulin
- reduce heart disease and diabetes risks
Any diet that helps you lose weight can help your condition. However, some diets may have advantages over others.
Studies comparing diets for PCOS have found that low carbohydrate diets are effective for both weight loss and lowering insulin levels.
A low glycaemic index (low GI) diet that gets most carbohydrates from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains helps regulate the menstrual cycle better than a regular weight loss diet.
A few studies have found that 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise at least 3 days a week can help women with PCOS lose weight. Losing weight with exercise also improves ovulation and insulin levels.
Exercise is even more beneficial when combined with a healthy diet. Diet plus exercise helps you lose more weight than either intervention alone, and it lowers your risks for diabetes and heart disease.
Birth control pills and other medications can help regulate the menstrual cycle and treat PCOS symptoms like hair growth and acne.
Taking progestin daily can:
- restore a normal hormone balance
- regulate ovulation
- relieve symptoms like excess hair growth
- protect against endometrial cancer
Metformin (Glucophage, Fortamet) is a drug used to treat type 2 diabetes. It also treats PCOS by improving insulin levels.
One study found that taking metformin while making changes to diet and exercise improves weight loss, lowers blood sugar, and restores a normal menstrual cycle better than changes to diet and exercise alone.
Clomiphene (Clomid) is a fertility drug that can help women with PCOS get pregnant.
It’s important to note that, as you’re discussing family planning, keep in mind that clomiphene increases the chances for twins and other multiple births.
Hair removal medications
A few treatments can help get rid of unwanted hair or stop it from growing.
Surgery can be an option to improve fertility if other treatments don’t work. Ovarian drilling is a procedure that makes tiny holes in the ovary with a laser or thin heated needle to restore normal ovulation.