Editorials

Defining polycystic ovary syndrome

BMJ 2009; 338 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.a2968 (Published 13 February 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:a2968
  1. Adam Balen, professor of reproductive medicine and surgery1,
  2. Roy Homburg, professor of reproductive medicine2,
  3. Stephen Franks, professor of reproductive endocrinology3
  1. 1Leeds Teaching Hospitals, Leeds LS2 9NS
  2. 2VU University Medical Centre, Amsterdam 1007 MB, Netherlands
  3. 3Institute of Reproductive and Developmental Biology, Imperial College London, Hammersmith Hospital, London W12 0NN
  1. adam.balen{at}leedsth.nhs.uk

    New criteria say that hyperandrogenism and ovarian dysfunction are needed

    Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a well recognised and common condition that causes considerable morbidity. It comprises a group of signs and symptoms, and several attempts have been made to reach consensus on its definition. The latest proposed definition comes from a new group, the Androgen Excess and PCOS Society, which has reviewed the literature on the defining features of the syndrome.1

    The original case series described seven women who had enlarged polycystic ovaries and amenorrhoea.2 The cardinal symptoms were subsequently recognised to be chronic anovulation (oligomenorrhoea or amenorrhoea) and hyperandrogenism (usually hirsutism, acne, and sometimes alopecia). These symptoms were combined in a definition produced by a consensus agreement supported by the US National Institutes of Health.3 In Europe and Australasia, ovarian imaging by ultrasound became an important component in the diagnosis, largely because ovarian morphology was part of the original description of the disease. To gain transatlantic harmony, the European …

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