PCOS Treatment with Zocor
Zocor-simvastatin is a medication typically used to treat high cholesterol. Recent evidence suggests that Zocor may be a useful treatment for PCOS – polycystic ovary syndrome.
A recent study presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Gynecologic Investigation is the first to look at the effects of these medications in women with PCOS. Women with PCOS are often found to have high cholesterol and triglycerides.
The PCOS patients in the study were first placed on birth control pills. This was necessary because Zocor and related medications, known collectively as statins, are contraindicated in pregnancy. One half of the PCOS patients also received Zocor.
PCOS Study Results
A comparison of the hormone levels in these patients before treatment and again after 12 weeks showed was quite impressive. Testosterone is a hormone that is commonly elevated in PCOS. Testosterone belongs to a class of hormones known as androgens. Androgens are what many people think of as male type hormones. In women, when testosterone levels are elevated, such as in PCOS patients, they can have problems with unwanted hair growth, acne and hair loss. In this study, testosterone fell by an average of 41% in the group that received the combined birth control and Zocor. By contrast, in the birth control alone group, levels fell by only 14%.
Another androgen that can be elevated in PCOS patients is dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS). DHEAS elevations in PCOS patients have been treated with steroids and is associated with numerous side effects. DHEAS levels fell 26% in the combined birth control and Zocor patients and 28% in the birth control alone group.
PCOS patients can also show abnormal patterns in pituitary hormones luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). In most healthy women, their levels of FSH and LH are about the same. PCOS patients, on the other hand, will sometimes have elevated LH levels and consequently an elevated LH to FSH ratio. In this study of PCOS patients, the group that was receiving birth control pills alone had a reduction of LH of about 9%. The group that also took Zocor had a 43% in the LH levels. As a result, the LH:FSH ratio declined significantly in the combined group (44%) but fell by only 12% in the birth control group.
As expected, the Zocor group showed improved cholesterol levels. Total cholesterol was 10% lower with the addition of Zocor. Using birth control pills alone, the total cholesterol rose by 8%. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol dropped by 24% in the Zocor patients, but stayed the same in the birth control patients. Zocor did not have a beneficial effect on triglycerides. This makes sense since triglyceride levels can be elevated due to insulin resistance in PCOS patients and Zocor did nothing to improve insulin resistance.
Based on the results of this study, women with PCOS, especially those with high cholesterol should be offered treatment with statins. PCOS patients are known to bat greater risk for developing heart disease. It is important to try to decrease as many risk factors as possible.
However, women who are attempting pregnancy should not take statins.