PCOS- what can I do about it? (Part 3 of 3)

So you’ve been diagnosed with PCOS- what can you do about it?

As mentioned in my previous blog post we unfortunately do not have a ‘cure’ for PCOS. But given the different symptoms there are certainly things that we can do to optimize the associated problems:

  • Irregular periods- If you’re not considering having a baby then birth control pills may be used to help control menstrual cycles. This will help regulate the timing of your periods and also normalize the hormones to reduce excess production of androgens (male hormones that are normally produced in small amounts in women)
  • Acne- Since acne is usually related to androgen levels birth control pills will also help with reducing acne. Other medications (either topical or oral) may also help with acne so talk to your fam doc about this.
  • Excessive hair growth- Also a side effect of excess androgens hair growth will benefit from regulation of hormones, likely through use of birth control pills or other medications to decrease the effect of androgens. For more cosmetic effects women may also consider hair removal through laser or electrolysis.
  • Weight control- Losing 5-10% of your body weight can help regulate your menstrual cycles. A combination of dietary choices (such as low glycemic index diet high in fresh food and low in processed foods) and exercise (150 minutes of mild to moderate exercise per week) is useful. Talk to you doc or dietitian (call 8-1-1 for free dietitian advice in BC) about ways to help with weight control
  • Fertility problems- medications may be used to promote ovulation (release of the egg from the ovary). There are some risks associated with these medications such as multiple births (twins or more) or hyperstimulation of the ovary. The expertise and guidance of a reproductive endocrinologist is extremely useful to consider other options as well.
  • Insulin resistance- medications may be used to help control blood sugar and prevent diabetes-related health problems. Exercise can also help muscles utilize sugar more efficiently. Diets that are lower in carbohydrates and include more complex carbohydrates will help control blood sugar levels.

All of these suggestions and treatments (especially dietary choices and exercise) are much easier said than done! I trust that a fam doc’s can help with navigating some of these challenges and choices together- so don’t hesitate to talk to us!

Hopefully these blog posts about PCOS have been useful. If you have any other questions or other topics you’d like to hear about, drop me a message!

Dr. Charmaine Ma, BSc(Pharm), MD, Dip Fam Med (HK), CCFP