Skip to Content

Infertility Treatment for Women With PCOS

Topic Overview

Women withpolycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)do notovulateregularly. They often have trouble getting pregnant. The medicine clomiphene (such as Clomid) is commonly used to stimulate ovulation. But it doesn't work for some women who have PCOS. This is because many body systems are involved in PCOS ovulation problems. Often other treatment can restore balance to the body's metabolism and hormone system, so that ovulation medicine is not needed (or works better if it is used).

  • Before considering medicine to stimulate ovulation, overweight women with polycystic ovary syndrome should try to lower their body mass index (BMI) with diet and exercise. Even a modest weight loss may trigger ovulation.
  • If weight loss does not help start ovulation, clomiphene is usually tried first.
  • If clomiphene does not start ovulation, it may be combined with another medicine, such as metformin. Combining the two treatments may make it more likely that clomiphene will trigger ovulation.
  • Women who do not ovulate with a combination of medicines are sometimes treated with gonadotropins. These are similar to the hormones the body produces to start ovulation. During this type of treatment, a woman must have daily monitoring of egg follicle development to prevent ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. The monitoring requires blood tests and ultrasound.
  • If clomiphene does not work, your doctor may try a medicine called letrozole. Letrozole may harm the fetus if it is used while you are pregnant. Talk to your doctor about making sure you are not pregnant before you take this drug.

Laparoscopic ovarian surgery or in vitro fertilization (IVF) is sometimes used for women with PCOS who have tried weight loss and medicine, but still are not ovulating. (A surgery sometimes used is ovarian drilling. This involves partial destruction of an ovary, which can trigger ovulation.) footnote 1

Related Information



  1. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (2002, reaffirmed 2008). Management of infertility caused by ovulatory dysfunction. ACOG Practice Bulletin No. 34. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 99(2): 347-358.


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerKathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerFemi Olatunbosun, MB, FRCSC, FACOG - Obstetrics and Gynecology, Reproductive Endocrinology

Current as ofNovember 21, 2017

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Learn how we develop our content.

© 1995-2018 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.

Symptom Checker

Feeling under the weather?

Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.

Symptom Checker

Decision Points

Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.

You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:

Interactive Tools

Get started learning more about your health!

Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.

Health Library