What is the role of contraceptives in the treatment of hirsutism secondary to polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)?

Updated: Sep 19, 2019
  • Author: Richard Scott Lucidi, MD, FACOG; Chief Editor: Richard Scott Lucidi, MD, FACOG  more...
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Answer

Women who do not wish to become pregnant can be effectively treated for hirsutism with oral contraceptives. [82] Oral contraceptives slow hair growth in 60-100% of women with hyperandrogenemia. Therapy can be started with a preparation that has a low dose of estrogen and a nonandrogenic progestin. Preparations that have norgestrel and levonorgestrel should be avoided because of their androgenic activity. There is also a risk of thrombotic events in obese women who use oral contraceptives; therefore, the proper precautions should be exercised to prevent such events. Oral contraceptives containing cyproterone acetate are also very effective in the treatment of more severe hirsutism [83] ; however, this combination of agents has not been approved by the FDA for use in the United States.


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