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Hirsutism and acne in polycystic ovary syndrome.

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School of Medicine-0633, University of California, San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093-0633, USA.


Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the most common endocrine abnormality affecting reproductive age women. Population-based studies estimate a prevalence of 5-10% [Obstet Gynecol 101 (2003) 995; Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol 41 (2001) 202]. The clinical characteristics of PCOS include hyperandrogenism, chronic anovulation, insulin resistance and infertility. Hyperandrogenism is generally manifested as hirsutism and acne. Both these clinical symptoms are treated with similar drug therapies, including oral contraceptive pills (OCPs), topical medications or antiandrogens such as spironolactone, flutamide and finasteride, as well as topical medications. Recent studies have shown that lower doses of these medications are as efficacious as high doses and have the advantage of decreased cost and an improved side-effect profile. Although hirsutism and acne can be considered cosmetic in nature, they cause significant social embarrassment and emotional distress. Physicians should be sensitive to these issues and approach patients in a caring and sympathetic manner.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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