PCOS & Irregular Periods: Getting it Under Control

For many women with polycystic ovarian syndrome, one of the most common PCOS symptoms is irregular, heavy periods or even an absence of periods. While some women may think that not having your period is a good thing, in fact, it can lead to more problems. This is why women with PCOS typically receive treatment to induce menstruation.

Birth Control

Using the birth control pill to help induce periods may seem counter productive to some. After all, since ovulation is commonly the problem, wouldn’t it be better to jump start the ovulation cycle? For women looking to get pregnant, inducing ovulation is possible. However, because ovarian stimulation drugs have a number of side effects associated with them, long-term use of them is not recommended. This is why, for women not looking to get pregnant, the birth control pill is prescribed.

Periods may be controlled through the use of the contraceptive pill, which is most suitable for women under the age of 35 who also require a reliable form of birth control. Not only will the birth control pill help to even out your estrogen and progesterone levels, but it will likely also lower your levels of androgens, in particular testosterone. This in turn should help ease any acne or excessive hair growth you may be experiencing.

Another treatment option is the use of a progesterone-like hormone drug. Progesterone is the main hormone of the second half of the menstrual cycle, which maintains your cycle’s length and helps reduce the heaviness of your period. Mimicking progesterone, progestagens are taken as tablets in a cyclical way, for example from day 12 to 26 of your cycle. However, the exact type and timing of this medication will be dependant upon your individual cycle problem.

Not having a period at all can increase your risk of endometrial cancer. Using the birth control pill or cyclical progestagens can help reduce your risk, though. Around six periods per year is adequate to protect against endometrial cancer.

Weight Loss

Excess weight is a cause of menstrual problems in both women with and those without PCOS. Extra oestrogen is made in fat tissues and this interferes with ovulation and leads to over-stimulation of the lining of the uterus and heavier periods. Weight reduction will improve cycle control and reduce the heaviness of menstrual flow.

If you have tried losing weight, do not need to lose weight, or prefer not to use hromonal drugs to induce menstruation, it is possible that alternative treatments may be useful. Some women may be able to regulate their periods through the use of acupuncture.

Getting Pregnant

Many women with PCOS experience infertility as a result of their disorder. However, it is possible to get pregnant, though you may need some help. Typical treatment for those seeking a pregnancy includes the use of fertility drugs, specifically Clomid. If use of this drug fails to stimulate ovulation, injectable hormones will likely be prescribed.

Women that do not have success with fertility drugs may be recommended for another type of infertility treatment, ovarian drilling. Though the name can sound quite intimidating, the actual procedure is not and is similar to laparoscopy. Ovarian drilling is a type of surgery whereby the ovaries are burned in several spots. Ideally, this procedure will help correct your hormone imbalance and induce ovulation, making a pregnancy possible.

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