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Semin Reprod Med. 2008 Jan;26(1):22-34. doi: 10.1055/s-2007-992921.

Polycystic ovary syndrome in the Indian Subcontinent.

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The Prince Aly Khan Hospital IVF Center and The Aesculap Academy-Asia, Pacific Center For Minimally Invasive Surgery, Training & Research, Mazgaon, Mumbai, India.


Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a complex, multifaceted, heterogeneous disorder that affects approximately 5 to 10% of women of reproductive age. It is characterized by hyperandrogenism, polycystic ovaries, and chronic anovulation along with insulin resistance, hyperinsulinemia, abdominal obesity, hypertension, and dyslipidemia as frequent metabolic traits (metabolic syndrome) that culminate in serious long-term consequences such as type 2 diabetes mellitus, endometrial hyperplasia, and coronary artery disease. It is one of the most common causes of anovulatory infertility. However, the heterogeneous clinical features of PCOS may change throughout the life span, starting from adolescence to postmenopausal age, largely influenced by obesity and metabolic alterations, and the phenotype of women with PCOS is variable, depending on the ethnic background. The etiology of PCOS is yet to be elucidated; however, it is believed that in utero fetal programming may have a significant role in the development of PCOS phenotype in adult life. Though a woman may be genetically predisposed to developing PCOS, it is only the interaction of environmental factors (obesity) with the genetic factors that results in the characteristic metabolic and menstrual disturbances and the final expression of the PCOS phenotype. Irrespective of geographic locations, a rapidly increasing prevalence of polycystic ovarian insulin resistance syndrome, excess body fat, adverse body fat patterning, hypertriglyceridemia, and obesity-related disease, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, have been reported in Asian Indians, suggesting that primary prevention strategies should be initiated early in this ethnic group. In lieu of the epidemic increase in the prevalence of obesity and diabetes mellitus in most industrialized countries including China and India owing to Westernization, urbanization, and mechanization, and evidence suggesting a pathogenetic role of obesity in the development of PCOS and related infertility, active intervention to combat the malice of these disorders is warranted. Pharmacologic therapy is a critical step in the management of patients with metabolic syndrome when lifestyle modifications fail to achieve the therapeutic goals, and studies in China and India have proved to be effective.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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