Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Prevalence of polycystic ovaries in women with anovulation and idiopathic hirsutism.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1986; 293 doi: (Published 09 August 1986) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1986;293:355
  1. J Adams,
  2. D W Polson,
  3. S Franks


    Polycystic ovaries were defined with ultrasound imaging in a series of 173 women who presented to a gynaecological endocrine clinic with anovulation or hirsutism. Polycystic ovaries were found in 26% of women with amenorrhoea, 87% with oligomenorrhoea, and 92% with idiopathic hirsutism--that is, hirsutism but with regular menstrual cycles. Fewer than half the anovulatory patients with polycystic ovaries were hirsute, but in 93% of cases there was at least one endocrine abnormality to support the diagnosis of polycystic ovaries--that is, raised serum concentrations of luteinising hormone, raised luteinising hormone: follicle stimulating hormone ratio, or raised serum concentrations of testosterone or androstenedione. This study shows that polycystic ovaries, as defined by pelvic ultrasound, are very common in anovulatory women (57% of cases) and are not necessarily associated with hirsutism or a raised serum luteinising hormone concentration. Most women with hirsutism and regular menses have polycystic ovaries so that the term "idiopathic" hirsutism no longer seems appropriate.