Is Spironolactone Right For You? - PCOS Diva
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Is Spironolactone Right For You?

By Amy Medling, founder of PCOS Diva

It is estimated that as many as 1 in 5 women have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), marked by hormonal imbalances and high levels of androgens. Symptoms such as excess hair growth (hirsutism), acne, and unpredictable menstrual periods can be frustrating and negatively affect self-esteem.  Mainstream medical treatments for PCOS often include the birth control pill, the diabetic drug Metformin and the diuretic Spironolactone.  This blog explores treating PCOS symptoms with Spironolactone and offers a few natural alternatives. 

What is Spironolactone?

Spironolactone is a diuretic drug, commonly marketed as Aldactone, and is used to help people urinate more. The purpose of a diuretic is to reduce excess stored water or swelling due to fluid buildup. Other popular uses include relieving high blood pressure and revealing “muscle veins” for bodybuilders during competitions, giving off a lean look. 

Why is it used for PCOS?

Women with PCOS often have high androgen levels which can cause various frustrating symptoms such as hirsutism, hair loss and acne. Spironolactone helps reduce androgen levels for women with PCOS, especially in combination with contraceptive pills.

Spironolactone treatment can help reduce abnormal hair growth, hair loss and improve acne breakouts in women.  Note that it takes a few months to start noticing any positive effects.

Side effects of spironolactone treatment

As with any form of drug treatment, side effects can happen. Depending on the person, it is possible to experience the following:

  • Irregular menstrual bleeding, especially if you’re not on the pill
  • Rashes
  • Excessive thirst or dry mouth
  • Diarrhea or loose bowel movement
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Nausea

Natural alternatives to reduce androgens

Doctors often choose pharmaceuticals like the birth control pill and Spironolactone, and many women successfully suppress their PCOS symptoms with these drugs. Others choose natural alternatives because of drug side effects. 

I encourage you to explore the following natural alternatives to treat the root cause of androgen imbalance as well. 

Diindolylmethane

Diindolylmethane or DIM is an androgen antagonist or a substance that directly interferes with the processes involved in androgen production. DIM can lower the anabolic effects of the hormone. DIM can lessen the anabolic effects of the hormone. It works by blocking testosterone production or at least reducing its effects. DIM can decrease the anabolic effects of the hormone. Taking DIM supplements has also been shown to support hormonal acne treatment and provide relief for PMS.

Melatonin

Everyone knows melatonin as a sleep aid. It’s because melatonin is secreted by the body slowly throughout the day until it builds up in the evening, just in time for us to feel tired enough to fall asleep.

More than sleep, melatonin is also critical in maintaining hormone balance, particularly for recovery and other forms of “body maintenance,” while we sleep.

For androgens, melatonin help lower testosterone activity by directly reducing androgen production. Another benefit of taking melatonin for PCOS is improving oocyte quality for hypoestrogenemia and hyperandrogenemia.

Recommended product: PCOS Diva Melatonin Plus

Zinc

Women with PCOS often have lower zinc levels which can cause hirsutism and PMS symptoms like cramps and bloating. 

DHT is a hormone considered a catalyst for hirsutism, acne, and male pattern baldness. Zinc can help to lower the activity of processes that increase DHT production. 

Fish Oil

The research found a correlation between fish oil intake (omega 3) and lower testosterone concentrations in women with PCOS. Scientists also suggest fish oil supplements may help with menstrual cycle regulation.

Some studies also found a link between mood and omega 3 fatty acids and better insulin management, critical for PCOS patients.

Recommended product: PCOS Diva Ultra DHA Omega 3

Quercetin

Quercetin is a polyphenol and natural pigment abundant in fruits and vegetables. It’s also a popular antioxidant, and many get their quercetin by consuming red wine. 

A 2020 study discovered a connection between lower testosterone levels and quercetin supplementation. They also found the antioxidant was able to increase progesterone levels. 

Conclusion

Spironolactone is a standard prescription for women with PCOS who have problems managing excessive hair growth, acne breakouts, and male pattern balding. While the drug does work, it doesn’t directly address the root cause of those symptoms and can cause side effects.  There are supplements that can help reduce androgens. There is no single correct answer. The right supplement or drug for you is entirely dependent upon your body’s unique chemistry. Talk to your doctor about your alternatives. Regardless of whether you choose a pharmaceutical or a natural supplement, it cannot be your only line of treatment. All research indicates that the first line of treatment of PCOS is a PCOS-friendly diet and lifestyle.

Amy Medling

Amy Medling, the best-selling author of Healing PCOS and certified health coach, specializes in working with women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), who are frustrated and have lost all hope when the only solution their doctors offer is to lose weight, take a pill, and live with their symptoms. In response, Amy founded PCOS Diva and developed a proven protocol of supplements, diet, and lifestyle programs that offer women tools to help them gain control of their PCOS and regain their fertility, femininity, health, and happiness.

References:

  • Kun Yu, Rong-Xiang Wang, Meng-Hui Li, Tie-Cheng Sun, Yi-Wen Zhou, Yuan-Yuan Li, Li-Hua Sun, Bao-Lu Zhang, Zheng-Xing Lian, Song-Guo Xue, Yi-Xun Liu, Shou-Long Deng, “Melatonin Reduces Androgen Production and Upregulates Heme Oxygenase-1 Expression in Granulosa Cells from PCOS Patients with Hypoestrogenia and Hyperandrogenia”, Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, vol. 2019, Article ID 8218650, 13 pages, 2019. https://doi.org/10.1155/2019/8218650
  • Tabrizi, Fatemeh & Hajizadeh-Sharafabad, Fatemeh & Vaezi, Maryam & Jafari-Vayghan, Hamed & Alizadeh, Mohammad & Maleki, Vahid. (2020). Quercetin and polycystic ovary syndrome, current evidence and future directions: a systematic review. Journal of Ovarian Research. 13. 10.1186/s13048-020-0616-z. 
  • Grant P, Ramasamy S. An update on plant-derived anti-androgens. Int J Endocrinol Metab. 2012;10(2):497-502. doi:10.5812/ijem.3644

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