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Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome: Diagnosis and Management

  • Michael T. Sheehan
Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation
Publication Date
Feb 01, 2004
  • Biology
  • Ecology
  • Medicine


Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) affects 4% to 12% of women of reproductive age. The lack of well-defined diagnostic criteria makes identification of this common disease confusing to many clinicians. Also, with the varied manifestations of the disorder a patient may present to any one of several providers: an internist, family practitioner, nurse practitioner, pediatrician, gynecologist, dermatologist, or endocrinologist. Furthermore, the most distressing aspect of PCOS for any given patient may change over time, from hirsutism as a teenager to infertility as a young adult–potentially requiring several different providers along the way. It is important, therefore, that those caring for these patients understand not only the management issues pertinent to their specialty, but also appreciate the other potential health risks in these women. Recent insights into the pathophysiology of PCOS have shown insulin resistance to play a substantial role and as such have brought the long-term issues of type 2 diabetes mellitus and its resultant increased risk of coronary artery disease to the forefront. No longer can irregular menses and/or hirsutism be thought of as benign nuisances.

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