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Selma Feldman Witchel, Sharon E. Oberfield, and Alexia S. Peña. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: Pathophysiology, Presentation, and Treatment With Emphasis on Adolescent Girls. J Endocr Soc. 2019 Jun 14;3(8):1545-1573.


Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a heterogeneous disorder characterized by hyperandrogenism and
chronic anovulation. Depending on diagnostic criteria, 6% to 20% of reproductive aged women are affected. Symptoms of PCOS arise during the early pubertal years. Both normal female pubertal development and PCOS are characterized by irregular menstrual cycles, anovulation, and acne. Owing to the complicated interwoven pathophysiology, discerning the inciting causes is challenging. Most available clinical data communicate findings and outcomes in adult women. Whereas the Rotterdam criteria are accepted for adult women, different diagnostic criteria for PCOS in adolescent girls have been delineated. Diagnostic features for adolescent girls are menstrual irregularity, clinical hyperandrogenism, and/or hyperandrogenemia. Pelvic ultrasound findings are not needed for the diagnosis of PCOS in adolescent girls. Even before definitive diagnosis of PCOS, adolescents with clinical signs of androgen excess and oligomenorrhea/amenorrhea, features of PCOS, can be regarded as being “at risk for PCOS.” Management of both those at risk for PCOS and those with a confirmed PCOS diagnosis includes education, healthy lifestyle interventions, and therapeutic interventions targeting their symptoms. Interventions can include metformin, combined oral contraceptive pills, spironolactone, and local treatments for hirsutism and acne. In addition to ascertaining for associated comorbidities, management should also include regular follow-up visits and planned transition to adult care providers. Comprehensive knowledge regarding the pathogenesis of PCOS will enable earlier identification of girls with high propensity to develop PCOS. Timely implementation of individualized therapeutic interventions will improve overall management of PCOS during adolescence, prevent associated comorbidities, and improve quality of life.

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