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Polycystic ovarian syndrome – prognosis and treatment outcomes

Hart, Roger

Current Opinion in Obstetrics and Gynecology: December 2007 - Volume 19 - Issue 6 - p 529–535
doi: 10.1097/GCO.0b013e3282f10e22
Women's health: Edited by Gubby Ayida and Joseph Aquilina

Purpose of review Polycystic ovarian syndrome is the commonest endocrine disorder of reproductive-age women. It may have implications for women with regard to anovulatory infertility, insulin resistance and elevated androgens. Furthermore, patients are prone to health problems in later life, including diabetes and cardiovascular risk. This review provides an update of recent findings for the management of polycystic ovarian syndrome.

Recent findings Studies have been performed to determine the best first-line medication for ovulation induction in polycystic ovarian syndrome. Meta-analyses have been performed to determine whether metformin should be used as an adjunct in IVF in women with this syndrome and to determine whether metformin or the oral contraceptive pill should be used for symptom control. Adverse features of this syndrome can be improved by diet and exercise. Evidence for the longer-term use of metformin to protect against adverse cardiovascular outcomes, and for its pregnancy use to reduce gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and fetal macrosomia is lacking, although evidence for a reduction in miscarriage in insulin-resistant patients is accumulating.

Summary Recent studies have sought to clarify the serious short-term clinical problems faced by women with polycystic ovarian syndrome; however, studies looking to the long term to address cardiovascular and diabetic conversion are still required.

Associate Professor of Reproductive Medicine and Medical Director of Fertility Specialists of Western Australia, UWA School of Women's and Infants' Health, University of Western Australia, King Edward Memorial Hospital, Subiaco, Perth, Western Australia, Australia

Correspondence to Roger Hart, King Edward Memorial Hospital 374 Bagot Road, Subiaco, Perth, WA 6008, Australia Tel: +61 8 9340 1322; fax: +61 8 9381 3031; e-mail:

© 2007 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.