Question for Betty.

Do birth control pills have any effect on women with PCOS?  Do they help with cysts?  Any ways to remove the cysts and obtain a regular period?  I just want to be normal again.  My period was fine and then all of a sudden it became irregular.  I'm still not sexually active, weigh 137# and I'm 5'6", so I don't believe I'm overweight.  I checked hormone levels, thyroid etc. (all the tests for PCOS) and I have nothing wrong with me except that I don't get normal periods.

Betty's Answer.

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hot topic; please see additional questions listed under Womens Health on this topic.

My first question is if you have actually been diagnosed with PCOS?  If so, then it is important to follow-up with your health care provider, for your specific health care needs, and to develop a treatment plan. If you have not been diagnosed with PCOS, then you need follow-up for your continued amenorrhea (absence of menses).

In general, treatment for PCOS depends on a woman's goals.  The use of oral contraceptives is to decrease the androgen excess which may be causing hirsutism (excessive hair) and acne.  Oral contraceptives are also used for endometrial protection: chronic anovulation seen in PCOS is associated with increased risk of endometrial hyperplasia (a build-up in the lining of the uterus), dysfunctional uterine bleeding (heavy or irregular bleeding) and possibly endometrial cancer (from the continual hyperplasia). If you were overweight, then weight loss would be a goal. 

If you do have PCOS, you do not need to remove the multiple tiny ovarian cysts; the oral contraceptives will decrease production of these.

Amenorrhea can be a transient condition, and may be caused by multiple factors: medications (including herbs, and vitamins), recent stress (like college), environmental changes (like living away from home), changes in weight, diet, exercise patterns, changes in hormones and sometimes thyroid problems.

Women are encouraged to see their health care provider if you miss more than three menstrual periods (either consecutively or over the course of a year), for evaluation.  The evaluation will include a complete history, physical and often labs for hormone levels, thyroid and metabolic testing. 

If you think you may have PCOS and/or need evaluation for irregular menses please contact your health care provider or make an appointment with the SHCC for further information.