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Many medical professionals prescribe a drug called spironolactone for women who suffer from a condition called polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Taking spironolactone for PCOS is one way to address and treat some of the symptoms associated with PCOS, rather than to cure the condition itself. Currently, there is no absolute cure, but using spironolactone is a very effective way for some women to manage some of the potentially emotionally harmful side effects of the disease, such as hair growth and skin problems.
PCOS is a condition characterized by excess male hormones, or androgen, in the female body. This usually leads to several problems, including acne and hirsutism, or male-like hair growth in a female, in addition to irregular ovulation, possible fertility troubles, and metabolic problems such as insulin resistance and a tendency toward obesity. Hirsutism and acne are very emotionally damaging symptoms, robbing many PCOS sufferers of feelings of confidence and femininity. Some women grow a small amount of facial or body hair that appears darker and coarser than normal, and it is very visible and difficult to remove. Taking spironolactone can sometimes reduce the severity of the acne and hirsutism by acting as an anti-androgen, balancing out the hormones to a more feminine level.
Using spironolactone for PCOS works for many women who take it, but it does not work for everyone. There are varying dosage schedules that can be adjusted to fit the individual, such as a continuous daily dosage or a cycling schedule that reduces or eliminates the medication during menstruation. Increasing the dosage with a healthcare professional’s permission may also help achieve or intensify results, but side effects are possible. Even women who successfully take this drug and get significant results may need to wait several months after starting the medication to notice any difference. Sometimes, additional medications, such as birth control pills and metformin, can be used alongside spironolactone to regulate the menstrual cycle, decrease insulin resistance, and reduce the appearance of hirsutism and acne to achieve the maximum amount of control over PCOS symptoms.
Spironolactone should not be taken while pregnant, because it interferes with the male hormones and may negatively affect the fetus. It is also a diuretic, and may increase the frequency of urination, so it is important for those taking the drug to stay hydrated. In addition to its uses for PCOS, spironolactone is also used to treat hypertension.