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Fertil Steril. 2003 Oct;80(4):966-75.

Ultrasound diagnosis of polycystic ovaries in women who have no symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome is not associated with subfecundity or subfertility.

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  • 1Academic Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Women's and Children's Hospital, Hull Royal Infirmary, University of Hull, Hull, United Kingdom.



To evaluate the effect on fertility of the appearance of polycystic ovaries in women who have no symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome.


Case-control study.


Teaching hospitals in Hull, United Kingdom.


Women with the appearance of polycystic ovaries on ultrasound and women with normal ovaries.


A questionnaire about previous subfertility, pregnancies, menstrual pattern, features of polycystic ovary syndrome, gynecological history, and individual lifestyle factors.


Time to pregnancy (TTP) and relative risk (RR) of subfertility in symptomatic and asymptomatic subgroups of both groups.


Women with PCOs took longer TTP and were significantly less fertile if they were obese (RR = 2.6), had menstrual disturbances (RR = 4.6), hirsutism (RR = 2.5), and/or acne (RR = 2.7). Further reductions in fecundity occurred with an increasing number of symptoms (threefold, sevenfold, and 10-fold longer TTP with two, three, and four symptoms, respectively). The TTP of women with no symptoms was not significantly longer and they were not more likely to be subfertile than women with normal ovaries. These symptoms were not associated with significantly reduced fecundity in women with normal ovaries.


The appearance of polycystic ovaries has been shown to have no significant impact on fertility in women with no symptoms. Appearances alone do not reflect the pathological features of polycystic ovary syndrome, and additional diagnostic criteria should be considered. Obesity, menstrual disturbances, and/or hyperandrogenism are factors associated with subfertility in women with polycystic ovaries.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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