Polycystic ovary syndrome is a heterogeneous endocrine disorder that affects about one in 15 women worldwide. The major endocrine disruption is excessive androgen secretion or activity, and a large proportion of women also have abnormal insulin activity. Many body systems are affected in polycystic ovary syndrome, resulting in several health complications, including menstrual dysfunction, infertility, hirsutism, acne, obesity, and metabolic syndrome. Women with this disorder have an established increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes and a still debated increased risk of cardiovascular disease. The diagnostic traits of polycystic ovary syndrome are hyperandrogenism, chronic anovulation, and polycystic ovaries, after exclusion of other conditions that cause these same features. A conclusive definition of the disorder and the importance of the three diagnostic criteria relative to each other remain controversial. The cause of polycystic ovary syndrome is unknown, but studies suggest a strong genetic component that is affected by gestational environment, lifestyle factors, or both.
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