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Pediatr Res. 1995 Dec;38(6):974-80.

Longitudinal change of sonographic ovarian aspects and endocrine parameters in irregular cycles of adolescence.

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  • 1Institute of Reproductive Physiology and Pathology, University of Bologna, Italy.


We longitudinally studied clinical endocrine and ultrasound parameters of the ovaries in 73 healthy adolescents having persistent menstrual irregularities. After the first examination, they were reexamined after a variable period ranging from 2 to 7 y. During the first examination, three basic features of the ovaries were observed: homogeneous (36%), multifollicular (23%), and polycystic (41%). Polycystic ovaries were most frequent, and they generally exceeded the normal adult range. During the last examination, in the entire group of irregular adolescents, homogeneous ovaries decreased (-14%), polycystic ovaries increased (+18%), and a further higher number of subjects exceeded the normal adult range (+10%). The subjects with enlarged ovaries had the highest values of LH, testosterone, and androstenedione. Fourteen subjects out of 46 (30%), with normal ovarian volume in the first examination, registered an ovarian enlargement in the last examination, exceeding the normal range. Moreover, a change from the homogeneous or multifollicular structure to the polycystic one was observed. Twenty-one subjects out of 27 (78%) with enlarged ovaries in the first examination confirmed the high ovarian volume and the unchanged structure in the last examination, whereas six subjects (22%) showed ovaries within the normal adult range; the polycystic structure was substantially confirmed. These results indicate the following. 1) Homogeneous, multifollicular, and polycystic ovaries can usually be found in the postmenarcheal period. 2) Enlarged ovaries, polycystic structure, hyperandrogenemia, and high LH values are strongly linked, and they are frequent in irregular cycles even in the absence of signs of hyperandrogenism. These characteristics may all persist or in various aggregations become a permanent feature. 3) Only a few subjects may lose ovarian enlargement and show a change in the polycystic structure; however, they frequently maintain hyperandrogenemia. 4) During the postmenarcheal period, normal ovarian characteristics may suddenly change, and the ovaries may take on a polycystic structure and increase in volume. Moreover, some endocrine parameters may reach pathologic levels.

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