The obstetrician-gynecologist’s role in the practical management of polycystic ovary syndrome


      Women with polycystic ovary syndrome come to the gynecologist with a variety of symptoms, including menstrual irregularities, hirsutism, acne, weight gain, obesity, and infertility. An accurate diagnosis requires both confirmation of signs and symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome and exclusion of other disorders. Once the diagnosis of polycystic ovary syndrome has been established, the presence of concomitant conditions, such as hypertension, dyslipidemia, and diabetes, must be assessed. Because the cause of polycystic ovary syndrome is not clear, treatment options have focused on symptom management. Such treatment options include oral contraceptives, gonadotropin-releasing hormone analogs with “add-back” hormone regimens, antiandrogens, ovulation-inducing agents, electrolysis, nutritional and weight loss counseling, exercise, laparoscopic ovarian drilling, and glucocorticoids. Pathogenic considerations, risk factor assessments, and treatment objectives combine to determine the choice of therapies. It is not clear whether insulin resistance is clinically important or causal in polycystic ovary syndrome symptom complex in all affected women. Polycystic ovary syndrome may be the final common expression of a variety of metabolic or neuroendocrine perturbations. If insulin resistance is a universal feature, it would make sense to treat with an insulin-sensitizing agent in the expectation that symptoms would resolve or improve. If insulin resistance is not the main etiologic factor, however, then insulin-sensitizing agents would be useful as adjunctive agents only for women with clinically important insulin resistance (eg, patients with polycystic ovary syndrome in whom insulin resistance causes hyperglycemia). In such cases an insulin-sensitizing agent could be instituted along with a program of weight loss and exercise. (Am J Obstet Gynecol 1998;179:S109-13.)


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