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Adolescent and Young Adult Health
May 2016

Treatment Considerations for the Cardiometabolic Signs of Polycystic Ovary SyndromeA Review of the Literature Since the 2013 Endocrine Society Clinical Practice Guidelines

Author Affiliations
  • 1Division of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland
JAMA Pediatr. 2016;170(5):502-507. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2015.4866

Importance  Polycystic ovary syndrome is characterized by an excess in androgen levels, ovarian dysfunction, and polycystic ovarian morphology but is also associated with metabolic dysfunction and risk factors for cardiovascular disease. To our knowledge, there are few therapeutic recommendations for these cardiometabolic risk factors and little evidence of their long-term clinical relevance to cardiovascular health.

Objective  To determine metabolic and/or cardiovascular outcomes in polycystic ovary syndrome treatment literature since the publication of the most recent Endocrine Society clinical practice guidelines in 2013.

Evidence Review  We searched PubMed using a string of variations of polycystic ovary syndrome, therapy/treatment, and adolescence, and we included English-language original research articles published while the 2013 clinical practice guidelines were disseminated (ie, articles published from January 1, 2011, to June 1, 2015). Articles that appeared relevant based on a review of titles and abstracts were read in full to determine relevancy. References from relevant articles were reviewed for additional studies.

Findings  Four topic areas emerged: (1) lifestyle modification, (2) metformin vs placebo or estrogen-progestin oral contraceptives, (3) insulin-sensitizing agents, and (4) estrogen-progestin formulations. Most studies assessed the role of metformin as a monotherapy or dual therapy supplement and found significant benefit when including metformin in polycystic ovary syndrome treatment regimens. Studies showed improvements in cardiometabolic risk factors and, in several, androgen excess and cutaneous and menstrual symptoms. Studies were limited by sample size (range, 22-171), few adolescent participants, and short-term outcomes.

Conclusions and Relevance  Findings show potential for metformin and estrogen-progestin dual therapy but warrant longitudinal studies examining outcomes from adolescence through middle age to determine the effect on long-term cardiovascular health.