Oral Contraceptives and PCO: Any Therapeutic Benefit?

Peter Kovacs, MD, PhD


June 27, 2013

In This Article

The Study and Background

The Study

Bhattacharya SM, Jha A. Comparative study of the therapeutic effects of oral contraceptive pills containing desogestrel, cyproterone acetate, and drospirenone in patients with polycystic ovary syndrome. Fertil Steril. 2012;98:1053-1059.


Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) affects about 5% of reproductive-aged women. It is characterized by irregular menstrual cycles, hyperandrogenism, and polycystic ovaries. In addition, metabolic abnormalities (glucose intolerance, vascular disease, obesity, dyslipidemia, and hypertension) are common among those affected. Women with PCOS may seek medical care for a variety of reasons, including menstrual irregularities, metabolic problems, and evaluation for infertility.

For women who are not interested in becoming pregnant immediately, oral contraceptives (OCs) address several problems The pill regulates the menstrual cycle, prevents endometrial hyperplasia and cancer, and improves hyperandrogenic symptoms. Combined OCs contain an estrogen and a progestogen component. They influence the bioavailability of steroid hormones, the hormonal regulation of the ovarian activity, and affect end organ steroid sensitivity. Various progestogens have different androgenic properties and therefore induce dissimilar clinical effects.

Bhattacharya and Jha compared the clinical efficacy of 3 different combinations of progestogens that were combined with ethinyl estradiol.


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