If you have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), acne is almost always a problem. Some times are worse than others, particularly when you have your period, when you’re stressed or sick, when you’ve gained weight or during pregnancy. 

PCOS affects 12-18% of women of child-bearing age with symptoms including hirsutism (excess hair), hair loss, acne, weight gain, irregular periods and fertility difficulties. 

Sugar and insulin problems can also be part of PCOS (insulin resistance and diabetes). As a result, there can be a cumulative effect, with symptoms worsening each month, particularly if you gain more weight.

Ideally doctors like to stop the cycle as early as possible and block the excessive male hormones with medication. Most women do well with a diabetes medication called metformin. 

Many oral contraceptive pills contain a hormone that breaks down to testosterone, so it’s important to get expert advice about which pill is right for you. 

Despite some claims, there is no research evidence that shows natural therapies help in PCOS. Your doctor is the best place to get help and a referral to a gynaecologist or an endocrinologist may be  required.

For more information about PCOS visit the Jean Hailes Foundation or speak to your GP.

Find out about hormonal treatments for acne