Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: Appreciating the Complexities and Implications of Diagnosis

Kristi Panchuk, M. Judith Lynam


PCOS is a common, complex endocrine problem that has serious implications for women from adolescence to beyond menopause. This paper provides an overview of the diagnostic criteria for polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and outlines the goals of care to help physicians and other health care providers to move beyond the debates about diagnosis to embrace an approach to management that is responsive to patients. Women with hyperandrogenism as a presenting feature of PCOS are known to have metabolic and cardiovascular risks, including type 2 diabetes mellitus and dyslipidemia. Despite the serious consequences of PCOS, women are not being identified early in life or managed effectively across the lifespan in order to reduce their long-term health risks. Optimizing detection and management of patients with PCOS will reduce the prevalence of type 2 diabetes mellitus and unmanaged dyslipidemia. With effective management, women may be able to conceive earlier and experience fewer adverse obstetrical outcomes. PCOS affects women physically, psychologically, and socially, and challenges their health care providers to take a proactive and comprehensive approach to treat symptoms and manage long-term risks.

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