PCOS: Spironolactone

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PCOS iconsSpironolactone (pronounced: spi–ro–no–lac–tone) is a diuretic or “water pill” that’s prescribed for people who have high blood pressure and for those who have swelling due to extra fluid, but it also has other benefits. Spironolactone is often prescribed for young women with PCOS who are taking oral contraceptive pills and who are “hirsute” (have extra hair in unwanted places).

How does Spironolactone work?

Spironolactone, the generic name for Aldactone®, works by lowering androgen levels in the body. Androgens are hormones that both males and females have, but males have higher levels of them. Androgens such as testosterone are responsible for hair growth on the face, chest, and stomach that some young women with PCOS have. Androgens can also cause acne. Spironolactone works by lowering the level of androgens, which lessens hair growth and improves acne.

How effective is Spironolactone?

Spironolactone is very effective in lessening hair growth and improving acne for young women, especially those taking oral contraceptive pills. Most young women taking this medication will see positive results; however, it can take up to 6 months to see an improvement in symptoms.

Are there any side effects?

Most young women who take Spironolactone have few or no side effects. The side effects are only temporary and will go away when Spironolactone is stopped.

Possible side effects may include:

  • Irregular menstrual bleeding (if not taking the Pill)
  • Frequent urination
  • Rash
  • Dry mouth, thirst
  • Loose bowel movements
  • Nausea
  • Tiredness
  • Headache

Other things to know about Spironolactone:

  • Before taking Spironolactone, tell your health care provider if you have liver or kidney problems
  • Don’t take it if you’re pregnant or might become pregnant
  • It’s best to take both Spironolactone and oral contraceptive pills together
  • Don’t take potassium supplements while taking Spironolactone