Which medications in the drug class Antiandrogens are used in the treatment of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome?

Updated: Sep 19, 2019
  • Author: Richard Scott Lucidi, MD, FACOG; Chief Editor: Richard Scott Lucidi, MD, FACOG  more...
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Antiandrogen agents block androgen receptors, thereby inhibiting the effects of male sex hormones. These agents may be used to treat hirsutism in women with PCOS.

Spironolactone (Aldactone)

Spironolactone is an antiandrogen agent that is a nonspecific androgen-receptor blocker. It may be used in conjunction with oral contraceptive pills to treat hirsutism by reducing hair diameter. Initiate oral contraceptive pills first to avoid worsening of menstrual irregularities and to prevent pregnancy, because spironolactone may have feminizing effects on the male fetus. Periodically assess adverse effects (eg, fluid and electrolyte abnormalities). Spironolactone is also used as a potassium-sparing diuretic.

Leuprolide (Lupron, Eligard)

Leuprolide is not a first-line agent in PCOS and therefore is not used often for this syndrome. This agent suppresses ovarian and testicular steroidogenesis by decreasing luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) levels. Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) analogs with oral contraceptive pills are an option to consider for hirsutism in women who fail to respond to combined therapy with spironolactone and oral contraceptive pills. Anatomic effects of androgens (eg, clitoromegaly and deepening of the voice) are not responsive to GnRH analogs.

Finasteride (Proscar, Propecia)

Finasteride is a 5-alpha-reductase inhibitor that is approved for use in benign prostatic hypertrophy and in male-pattern alopecia. This agent blocks conversion of testosterone to its more active metabolite, dihydrotestosterone. Finasteride tends to be a second-line agent for hirsutism in PCOS, when hirsutism persists despite the use of first-line agents (ie, oral contraceptives). This agent is more effective when used in combination with oral contraceptive pills. Due to the potential for teratogenic effects (eg, risk of genital ambiguity in male fetuses), finasteride therapy must be used in conjunction with a reliable form of contraception in sexually active women.

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