Management & treatment

Last updated 14 June 2016 — Last reviewed 05 March 2014

Management and treatment of PCOS can include a range of things such as a healthy approach to diet and physical activity, medications and complementary therapies. The following information is a general introduction to the different ways you can manage and treat PCOS.

Understand PCOS and what it does to your body

There are a number of ways to manage the symptoms and the impact of PCOS, so it is important to seek help as early as you can, after diagnosis.

The keys to managing PCOS well include:

  • A good understanding of how it’s caused and the effect of PCOS on the body
  • A healthy approach to eating and physical activity
  • Appropriate medical therapies

Managing PCOS with lifestyle

A healthy lifestyle is one of the most important aspects of managing PCOS successfully.

A healthy diet will ensure you are getting an adequate intake of nutrients, vitamins and minerals.

Loss of excess weight may reduce the severity of some symptoms and will reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Even a five to ten per cent weight loss can have significant health benefits, including improved mood and fertility, more regular menstrual cycles, and a reduced risk of diabetes.

Being physically active increases energy levels, helps with self-confidence and motivation and reduces anxiety and depression.

Managing PCOS with medical therapies

There are a number of different medical therapies used for managing the different symptoms of PCOS including for periods, fertility, excess hair, acne and weight

These therapies may include:

  • the oral contraceptive pill
  • insulin sensitising drugs like Metformin
  • hormones that are called Gonadotrophins
  • testosterone lowering drugs
  • weight loss drugs
  • antidepressants
  • anti-anxiety drugs 

Information on these different medical therapies can be found in the webpages for each of the different symptoms of PCOS: 

Managing PCOS with natural & complementary therapies

Complementary therapies include herbal medicine, nutrition, acupuncture, homeopathy, osteopathy, chiropractic, traditional Chinese medicine, aromatherapy, reflexology, and remedial therapy such as massage and kinesiology.

A small number of studies have been performed on the effects of Chinese herbal medicine and herbal supplements on reproductive symptoms (fertility and ovulation for example) and insulin resistance in PCOS. In these studies, the complementary therapy (such as chromium picolinate) has often not been compared directly to the effect of a standard treatment (lifestyle or medical), so it is difficult to say how effective these treatments are.

One study that did compare complementary therapy to standard or no treatment found that acupuncture improved ovulation rate and reduced androgen excess in women with PCOS. Chinese herbal medicines, however, did not improve the majority of fertility outcomes in women with PCOS.

As yet, these results are preliminary. Larger, controlled, clinical studies are needed before any comment is made on the usefulness of complementary therapies either in combination with or instead of current therapy for women with PCOS.

Such remedies should only be prescribed by an experienced qualified practitioner, preferably with an interest in women’s health and PCOS. Tell your doctor or specialist about all complementary therapies you are taking.

Actions you can take

When it comes to management of PCOS:

  • Seek accurate health information from trusted sources to assist your decision making
  • Treat the physical symptoms of PCOS
  • Discuss your mood and psychological wellbeing with your doctor
  • Optimise your lifestyle
  • Seek the best quality health care you can
  • Prioritise what is most important to you and communicate this with your doctor

This web page is designed to be informative and educational. It is not intended to provide specific medical advice or replace advice from your health practitioner. The information above is based on current medical knowledge, evidence and practice as at March 2014.

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