Which Birth Control Options Are Best For PCOS?

PCOS, or polycystic ovary syndrome, is a hormonal disorder that commonly occurs in women who are able to bear children. It is categorized by infrequent or longer menstrual cycles, higher levels of male hormones, and/or the body failing to release eggs on a regular basis, according to Mayo Clinic. Despite the serious-sounding name, it's actually a fairly common disorder, with up to 12% of American women of childbearing age being diagnosed with it every year (via Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)).

PCOS can make it very difficult to know when you are ovulating, since the condition causes the body to irregularly release eggs. This makes finding the right birth control of paramount importance for women with PCOS, so they can prevent pregnancy and manage their reproductive health. Currently, the two main categories of birth control are hormonal and non-hormonal. As the names suggest, one uses hormones to prevent pregnancy (per Healthline), while the other doesn't use hormones. Non-hormonal options include copper IUDs and condoms (per HealthyWomen).

While there is no "correct" type of birth control for those with PCOS, some may be better than others based on the needs of the individual.

The most commonly-prescribed birth control

The hormonal imbalances and irregular cycles associated with PCOS can make it extremely hard to know exactly when you are fertile, according to Mayo Clinic. This can make life difficult for those who are trying to get pregnant and those who want to avoid pregnancy. This is why hormonal birth control is the most common option for people with PCOS. The hormones in birth control help to restore balance in the body and make the menstrual cycle more regular, according to PopSugar.

Those prescribed hormonal birth control for PCOS will most likely receive a combination of estrogen and progestin. This combination is the most prescribed form of hormonal birth control, according to a 2020 study. If some patients don't want to take estrogen birth control — or can't, as determined by their doctor — there are progestin-only forms of birth control. Unfortunately, these methods won't help with regulating periods, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.