Several drugs are useful in dealing with individual symptoms.
Tablet forms of antibiotics and isotretinoin (Roaccutane, a powerful drug that can only be prescribed by a specialist), can help to control acne.
Oral contraceptives (the pill) can reduce acne and hirsutism by damping down the production of testosterone. They also make periods more regular. A combination of the female hormone ethinyl oestradiol and the drug cyproterone acetate, which suppresses male hormone activity, is usually used. This is available on prescription under the brand name Diane-35.
Infertility is usually treated with the drug clomiphene, which stimulates egg production. Up to 60% of women fall pregnant after six cycles of treatment. Weight loss improves the chance of the treatment being successful. If clomiphene doesn’t work, injections of hormones such as human menopausal gonadotrophin or follicle-stimulating hormone can be tried. Using laser to drill hole in the ovaries in order to reduce hormone production has been attempted, but further studies are needed to see whether this is going to be an effective option.
Preliminary trials of Metformin, a drug used for the treatment of diabetes, suggest that it may reduce hirsutism and improve fertility.
Other drugs which might help PCOS patients by reducing male hormone activity are currently being studied.