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Etiology and pathophysiology of polycystic ovary syndrome in adolescents

Robert L Rosenfield, MD
Section Editor
Mitchell E Geffner, MD
Deputy Editor
Alison G Hoppin, MD


Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) accounts for the vast majority of anovulatory symptoms and hyperandrogenism in women [1]. The diagnosis of PCOS has life-long implications, with increased risk for infertility, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes mellitus, and possibly for cardiovascular disease and endometrial carcinoma [2-5]. PCOS is diagnosed in adolescents with otherwise unexplained, persistent hyperandrogenic anovulatory symptoms that are inappropriate for age and stage of adolescence. It should be considered in any adolescent girl with hirsutism, treatment-resistant acne, menstrual irregularity, or acanthosis nigricans, and evidence of these signs and symptoms should be especially sought in patients being evaluated for obesity. (See "Definition, clinical features and differential diagnosis of polycystic ovary syndrome in adolescents", section on 'Clinical features'.)

This presentation of the etiology and pathophysiology of PCOS provides the rationale for the diagnosis and management of PCOS in adolescents, which are discussed separately:

(See "Definition, clinical features and differential diagnosis of polycystic ovary syndrome in adolescents".)

(See "Diagnostic evaluation of polycystic ovary syndrome in adolescents".)

(See "Treatment of polycystic ovary syndrome in adolescents".)

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Literature review current through: Dec 2017. | This topic last updated: Jun 06, 2017.
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