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Am J Med. 1995 Jan 16;98(1A):137S-143S.

Effects of sex steroids on women's health: implications for practitioners.

Author information

1
New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center, Monsey.

Abstract

Androgen excess in women is manifested typically by clinical features that may include hirsutism, acne, central obesity, male-pattern baldness, upper torso widening, increased waist-to-hip ratio, clitoral hypertrophy, and deepening of the voice. The differential diagnosis includes androgen-producing ovarian and adrenal neoplasms, Cushing's syndrome, polycystic ovary syndrome, and the intake of exogenous androgens. Physicians treating patients for one symptom of androgen excess must be alert for other symptoms and signs. The cosmetic manifestations of androgen excess belie the serious health risks associated with this condition, including cardiovascular disease, intravascular thrombosis, and insulin resistance. Prompt clinical recognition of androgen excess, understanding of the androgen-related biochemical abnormalities underlying the risks associated with this condition, and implementation of risk modification can reduce the incidence of associated morbidity and mortality. An interdisciplinary approach to management is strongly recommended. Risk reduction strategies include correction of dyslipidemias, low-dose aspirin for primary prevention of myocardial infarction, maintenance of ideal weight, smoking cessation, exercise, use of oral contraceptives containing a low-androgenic progestin, and postmenopausal estrogen replacement. Combination oral contraceptives containing low-androgenic progestins are effective not only in reducing signs of androgen excess but also in potentially retarding the progression of long-term sequelae such as cardiovascular disease.

PIP:

5-10% of all women have an androgen excess syndrome. Androgen excess signs and symptoms include hirsutism, acne, central obesity, male-pattern baldness, upper torso widening, increased waist-to-hip ratio, clitoral hypertrophy, and deepening of the voice. Physicians must be able to recognize these signs and symptoms. Presence of these signs and symptoms calls for a screening history and physical examination. Differential diagnoses of androgen excess in women include endogenous and exogenous causes. Endogenous-related diagnoses are those of ovarian origin (primary tumors, metastatic tumors, polycystic ovary syndrome, ovarian stromal hyperthecosis, androgen excess in pregnancy, and abnormal gonadal or sexual development) and those of adrenal origin (Cushing's syndrome/disease, late-onset congenital adrenal hyperplasia, and tumors). Exogenous causes of androgen excess include Danazol, Phenytoin, Diazoxide, Hexachlorobenzene, Hexachlorophene, Minoxidil, Cyclosporin, testosterone and other androgens, anabolic steroids, synthetic progestins (the pill), and Metapyrone. When physicians treat patients for one symptom of androgen excess, they should watch for other signs and symptoms. Serious health risks associated with androgen excess include cardiovascular disease, intravascular thrombosis, and insulin resistance. Physicians must be aware that timely clinical recognition of androgen excess, knowledge of androgen-related biochemical abnormalities underlying the risks linked to androgen excess, and risk modification behavior reduces associated morbidity and mortality. Risk reduction strategies are correction of dyslipidemias, low-dose aspirin for primary prevention of myocardial infarction, maintenance of ideal weight, smoking cessation, exercise, use of combined oral contraceptives (OCs) with a low-androgenic progestin, and postmenopausal estrogen replacement. OCs also slow progression of long-term sequelae (e.g., cardiovascular disease).

PMID:
7825634
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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