Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the most common ovarian disorder associated with androgen excess in women, which justifies the growing interest of endocrinologists. Great efforts have been made in the last 2 decades to define the syndrome. The presence of three different definitions for the diagnosis of PCOS reflects the phenotypic heterogeneity of the syndrome. Major criteria are required for the diagnosis, which in turn identifies different phenotypes according to the combination of different criteria. In addition, the relevant impact of metabolic issues, specifically insulin resistance and obesity, on the pathogenesis of PCOS, and the susceptibility to develop earlier than expected glucose intolerance states, including type 2 diabetes, has supported the notion that these aspects should be considered when defining the PCOS phenotype and planning potential therapeutic strategies in an affected subject. This paper offers a critical endocrine and European perspective on the debate on the definition of PCOS and summarises all major aspects related to aetiological factors, including early life events, potentially involved in the development of the disorder. Diagnostic tools of PCOS are also discussed, with emphasis on the laboratory evaluation of androgens and other potential biomarkers of ovarian and metabolic dysfunctions. We have also paid specific attention to the role of obesity, sleep disorders and neuropsychological aspects of PCOS and on the relevant pathogenetic aspects of cardiovascular risk factors. In addition, we have discussed how to target treatment choices based according to the phenotype and individual patient's needs. Finally, we have suggested potential areas of translational and clinical research for the future with specific emphasis on hormonal and metabolic aspects of PCOS.
Gerard Conway, Didier Dewailly, Evanthia Diamanti-Kandarakis, Héctor F Escobar-Morreale, Stephen Franks, Alessandra Gambineri, Fahrettin Kelestimur, Djuro Macut, Dragan Micic, Renato Pasquali, Marija Pfeifer, Duarte Pignatelli, Michel Pugeat and Bulent O Yildiz
Gerard Conway, Didier Dewailly, Evanthia Diamanti-Kandarakis, Hector F Escobar-Morreale, Steven Franks, Alessandra Gambineri, Fahrettin Kelestimur, Djuro Macut, Dragan Micic, Renato Pasquali, Marija Pfeifer, Duarte Pignatelli, Michel Pugeat and Bulent O Yildiz
There is evidence for differences between endocrinologists and other specialists in their approach to diagnosis and management of the polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
A mailed survey consisting of a simple questionnaire aiming to understand current practice for diagnosis and management of the PCOS by specialists across Europe.
The questionnaire consisted of 23 questions grouped to achieve information on i) the general characteristics of the respondents, ii) patients with PCOS seen by endocrinologists, iii) the main diagnostic criteria, iv) biochemical parameters used in the differential diagnosis of hyperandrogenism, v) long-term concerns, and, finally vi) treatment choices. A total of 357 questionnaires representing 13.3% of the members of European Society of Endocrinology (ESE) were available for final analysis; 93% of the respondents were endocrinologists
In relation to the diagnostic criteria, respondents were most likely to select menstrual irregularity as the most frequent criteria used for the diagnosis of PCOS although very high rates were achieved for the use of hirsutism and biochemical hyperandrogenism. It therefore appears that the NIH criteria were followed by the majority of respondents. The most frequent biochemical parameters in the differential diagnosis of hyperandrogenism were total testosterone or free androgen index. Obesity and type 2 diabetes were regarded as the principal long-term concerns for PCOS. The most common treatments for patients with PCOS were metformin (33%), lifestyle modification (25%), and oral contraceptives (22%). More direct treatments of infertility include clomiphene citrate alone or in combination with metformin, prescribed by 9 and 23%, respectively, whereas only 6% used other methods for induction of ovulation.
The survey produced by ESE is a good start for evaluating the perspective in the diagnosis and treatment of PCOS by endocrinologists in Europe.