Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common disorder characterized by hyperandrogenism and disordered gonadotropin secretion, often associated with insulin resistance. The syndrome, which modulates both hormonal and metabolic processes, is the most common endocrinopathy in reproductive-age women and increases a woman's risk of infertility, endometrial pathology, and cardiometabolic disease. As it is currently defined, PCOS most likely encompasses several distinct diseases with similar clinical phenotypes but different underlying pathophysiological processes. However, hyperandrogenism remains the syndrome's clinical hallmark. The clinical manifestations of PCOS often emerge during childhood or in the peripubertal years, suggesting that the syndrome is influenced by fetal programming and/or early postnatal events. However, given that the full clinical spectrum of PCOS does not typically appear until puberty, a "two-hit" hypothesis has been proposed: (1) a girl develops hyperandrogenism via one or more of many different potential mechanisms; (2) the preexisting hyperandrogenism subsequently disturbs the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis, resulting in ovulatory dysfunction and sustained hyperandrogenism. No consensus guidelines exist regarding the diagnosis and management of PCOS in the pediatric population; however, because the syndrome is a diagnosis of exclusion, the clinical evaluation of girls suspected of having PCOS is aimed at excluding other causes of androgen excess and menstrual dysfunction. For the syndrome's management, emphasis is placed on lifestyle and symptom-directed treatment.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Internal Medicine