Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) also known as Stein-Leventhal syndrome or functional ovarian hyperandrogenism, is a complex endocrine disorder associated with a long-term lack of ovulation (anovulation) and an excess of androgens (male sex hormones, e.g., testosterone) circulating in the blood. The disorder is characterized by the formation of cysts in the ovaries, a process related to the failure of the ovary to release an egg (ovum). In the majority of cases, the ovaries become enlarged.
PCOS afflicts up to 22% of women during their childbearing years, although only 10% of these women develop symptoms. It is one of the most frequent causes of infertility in women.
Many women with PCOS have the onset of symptoms during adolescence, and polycystic ovaries may be found by ultrasound even before the onset of puberty. Ovaries classified as polycystic have eight or more follicular cysts, 10 mm or less in size.
Decisions regarding treatment of PCOS depend on the extent of medical problems (morbidity) caused by the condition and the woman's preferences regarding fertility.
First line management includes diet modification, weight loss and stress reduction since obesity and stress alone can contribute to androgen excess. Other management is directed at the specific symptoms and complications as follows:
The Medifocus Guide on Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (POS) provides answers to the following important questions and medical issues:
What are the most common symptoms of POS?
Are there any recognized risk factors for developing POS?
What kinds of medical tests are used to establish the diagnosis of POS?
What is the current standard of care for the treatment of POS?
What treatment options are available for the management of POS?
Are there any promising new developments or potential breakthroughs in treatment?
Who are the most notable medical authorities who specialize in POS?
Where are the leading hospitals and centers of research for POS?
What are the most important questions to ask my doctor about POS?
What Your Doctor Reads:
This MediFocus Guide contains an extensive listing of citations and abstracts of recent journal articles that have been published about this condition in trustworthy medical journals. This is the same type of information that is available to physicians and other health care professionals. A partial selection of journal articles that are abstracted in this MediFocus Guide includes:
Correction of hyperinsulinemia in oligoovulatory women with clomiphene-resistant polycystic ovary syndrome: a review of therapeutic rationale and reproductive outcomes. 2000
The importance of diagnosing the polycystic ovary syndrome. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2000
The genetics of obesity. Lessons for polycystic ovary syndrome. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 2000
Hyperinsulinism and its interaction with hyperandrogenism in polycystic ovary syndrome. Obstetrical & Gynecological Survey. 2000
Laparoscopic "drilling" by diathermy or laser for ovulation induction in anovulatory polycystic ovary syndrome. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews [computer file]. 2000
Pulsatile luteinising hormone releasing hormone for ovulation induction in subfertility associated with polycystic ovary syndrome. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews [computer file]. 2000
Ovulation induction with urinary follicle stimulating hormone versus human menopausal gonadotropin for clomiphene-resistant polycystic ovary syndrome. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews [computer file]. 2000
Gonadotrophin-releasing hormone analogue as an adjunct to gonadotropin therapy for clomiphene-resistant polycystic ovarian syndrome. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews [computer file]. 2000
Polycystic ovary syndrome: a risk factor for cardiovascular disease?. BJOG: an International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology. 2000
Genetic abnormalities in polycystic ovary syndrome. Annales d Endocrinologie. 1999
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