Continuous Versus Cyclical OCP Use in PCOS
a study on Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
The mainstay treatment for females with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) has long been a combination of an oral contraceptive pill or OCP (containing both estrogen and progestin) along with an anti-androgen medication (such as Spironolactone) to not only prevent chronic anovulation but also suppress elevated testosterone levels and its clinical effects on the body. While there are multiple OCPs available on the market today and several studies that look at different progestins and their anti-androgenicity, not much is known about whether the length of active pills in OCP therapy (3 weeks versus 6 months) has any further benefit in continued suppression of testosterone and subsequently improvement in clinical findings of hyperandrogenism in the PCOS population. In this pilot randomized open label clinical trial, females between the ages of 16 and 35 years diagnosed with PCOS based on the Rotterdam Criteria, and not currently on medical therapy with an OCP will be enrolled in the study and randomized to either a continuous 6 month OCP or cyclical 21 day active OCP therapy. Our aim is to conduct a pilot randomized clinical trial to determine the effect of 6 months of active monophasic OCPs on testosterone levels and cutaneous findings of hyperandrogenism (hirsutism and acne) as compared to a traditional 21 day active/7 day placebo OCP in women with PCOS. These findings will be compared over a 6 month period.
Continuous Versus Cyclical OCP Use in PCOS: A Pilot Study
Those who meet criteria to take part in the study (women between the ages of 16-35 years, diagnosed with PCOS and have findings of hyperandrogenism either by serum testosterone levels above the normal reference range or by their modified Ferriman Gallwey score of >8, and are recommended to start an oral contraceptive pill for therapy) and give consent, will be randomized into either of two oral contraceptive (OCP) treatment groups:
- Ethinyl estradiol 30 mcg-Drospirenone 3 mg (Yasmin): 168 days of active hormone pills (no placebo pills) for 6 months.
- Ethinyl estradiol 30 mcg-Drospirenone 3mg (Yasmin): 21 days of active + 7 days of placebo pills for 6 months
Participants will be given the OCP Yasmin with instructions to take the medication at the same time each day for the length of the study (6 months). On the 4th, 12th and 24th week of therapy (roughly the 1st, 3rd and 6th month), blood work will be drawn and is detailed below.
At 1 month into therapy, (near the end of the 4th week on an OCP) both treatment groups will be expected to get blood work (total and free testosterone, SHBG, estradiol, LH, and FSH levels will be checked). At the time of the blood draw, subjects in the cyclical group should be on placebo/sugar pills and those in the continuous group on active hormone pills.
At 3 months into therapy, participants will come back to the PCOS clinic for routine care follow up and be seen by a Reproductive Endocrinology and Fertility specialist. This visit is considered "standard of care" and not specific to the study. However, during this visit a study investigator will also touch base briefly with the participants to see how they are doing. An online survey (through REDCap) will also be sent to participants that addresses if they have missed any doses of their medication and assess their acne quality of life. In addition, participants will once again get blood work (including total and free testosterone, SHBG, estradiol, LH, FSH, fasting lipid panel, fasting serum glucose, insulin, and HbA1c). As before, the cyclical group should be on placebo/sugar pills at the time of blood draw and the continuous group on active hormone pills.
At 6 months into therapy, participants will come in for a study visit (this is not considered routine care) in which they will have their vitals taken, a physical exam that includes a re-evaluation of their mFG score, and an in-clinic pelvic ultrasound to assess ovarian volume and follicle counts. They will also be emailed a post-study survey through REDCap, that includes a quality of life questionnaire for both acne and hirsutism, and includes questions regarding satisfaction with current therapy and any missed doses of their medication. Lastly, participants will again be expected to get blood work (total and free testosterone, SHBG, estradiol, LH, FSH).
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Hyperandrogenism Oral Contraceptive Pills Contraceptive Agents Contraceptives, Oral Contraceptives, Oral, Combined Drospirenone and ethinyl estradiol combination Yasmin Continuous OCP Therapy Cyclical OCP Therapy
You can join if…
Open to females ages 16-35
To be included in this study, participants must be:
- Female, within 16-35 years of age
- Diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome based on the 2003 Rotterdam Criteria (must meet 2 out of 3 criteria):
- evidence of either biochemical or clinical hyperandrogenism (elevated free and or total testosterone level above the normal reference range for assay, and/or an modified Ferriman-Gallwey hirsutism score >8)
- Oligo- or anovulation
- Polycystic ovary morphology on ultrasound
- Adolescents should be at least 2 years out from menarche (first menstrual period).
- Participants must not be on an oral contraceptive pill (OCP) at the start of the study and or Spironolactone therapy (an anti-androgen medication), but recommended by their physician to start OCP therapy.
You CAN'T join if...
- Females with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) who do not have either biochemical (elevated total or free testosterone levels) or clinical (modified Ferriman-Gallwey hirsutism score <8) findings of hyperandrogenism will not be included in the study as this is one of the primary outcome measures.
- Females with PCOS who are already on and currently using a form of contraceptive (oral, IUD, vaginal ring, or patch)
- Females that are concurrently using or plan to use an anti-androgenic medication such as Spironolactone in the next 6 months.
- Females currently or are planning to obtain permanent hair removal (ex. laser hair removal, electrolysis) in the concurrent 6 months of starting oral contraceptive (OCP) therapy will also be excluded from the study
- Women who are pregnant or have contraindications for starting an OCP, including active smokers, history of clotting disorders, history of deep vein thrombosis or blood clots, neoplasia, vascular disease, migraines, hypertension, or have renal/hepatic disease will be excluded from the study as OCP therapy would not be indicated or approved in this population.
- Females with elevated potassium levels above the normal reference range for age.
- University of California, San Francisco
accepting new patients
San Francisco California 94158 United States
Lead Scientist at UCSF
- Heather Huddleston
Professor, Ob/Gyn, Reproductive Sciences. Authored (or co-authored) 62 research publications
- accepting new patients
- Start Date
- Completion Date
- University of California, San Francisco
- Phase 4
- Study Type
- Last Updated
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