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Nat Rev Endocrinol. 2014 Oct;10(10):624-36. doi: 10.1038/nrendo.2014.102. Epub 2014 Jul 15.

The management of patients with polycystic ovary syndrome.

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Section of Investigative Medicine, Imperial College London, Hammersmith Hospital, DuCane Road, London W12 0NN, UK.
Institute of Reproductive and Developmental Biology, Imperial College London, Hammersmith Hospital, DuCane Road, London W12 0NN, UK.


Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the most common endocrine disorder in women. The syndrome is typified by its heterogeneous presentation, which includes hirsutism (a function of hypersecretion of ovarian androgens), menstrual irregularity and infertility (that is due to infrequent or absent ovulation). Furthermore, PCOS predisposes patients to metabolic dysfunction and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). The aetiology of the syndrome has a major genetic component. Obesity exacerbates the insulin resistance that is a feature of PCOS in many women and amplifies the clinical and biochemical abnormalities. In clinical practice, the choice of investigations to be done depends mainly on the presenting symptoms. The approach to management is likewise dependent on the presenting complaint. Symptoms of androgen excess (hirsutism, acne and alopecia) require cosmetic measures, suppression of ovarian androgen function and anti-androgen therapy, alone or in combination. Ovulation rate is improved by diet and lifestyle intervention in overweight individuals but induction of ovulation by, in the first instance, anti-estrogens is usually required. Monitoring of glucose is important in overweight women and/or those with a family history of T2DM. Metformin is indicated for women with impaired glucose tolerance but whether this drug is otherwise useful in women with PCOS remains debatable.

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