Letters to the Editor

Treatment of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome in Adolescents


Am Fam Physician. 2004 Aug 1;70(3):447.

to the editor: The article1 on polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) by Dr. Richardson in the August 15, 2003, issue of American Family Physician was an excellent review of the diagnosis, treatment, and currently recognized long-term sequelae of the disease. The author acknowledged that young women may have symptoms of PCOS and that these symptoms can begin as early as puberty. The article1 effectively discussed treatment strategies for adult women; however, it did not address options for affected adolescents. It should be noted that there is a small yet growing body of knowledge regarding the efficacy and tolerability of treatment for adolescents with PCOS. Given the long-term adverse effects of this condition, it makes sense to begin counseling and treatment as soon as possible.

All patients, including adolescents, should be counseled regarding diet, exercise, and maintaining an appropriate weight. The use of oral contraceptive pills is one treatment option that has been used in the adolescent population for irregular menses and should be considered for treatment of PCOS in this age group. Recent studies investigating metformin therapy in adolescents with PCOS or PCOS symptoms have shown that metformin improves glucose tolerance,2 normalizes menses,3,4,5 results in resumption of ovulation,3,4 improves insulin sensitivity, reduces elevated androgen levels,2,4 improves lipid profiles,5 and decreases hirsutism.5 Additionally, metformin is generally well tolerated.2,3,5 Further research with larger, randomized controlled trials will expand our scope of the treatment possibilities for adolescents with PCOS.


show all references

1. Richardson MR. Current perspectives in polycystic ovary syndrome. Am Fam Physician. 2003;68:697–704....

2. Arslanian SA, Lewy V, Danadian K, Saad R. Metformin therapy in obese adolescents with polycystic ovary syndrome and impaired glucose tolerance: amelioration of exaggerated adrenal response to adrenocorticotropin with reduction of insulinemia/insulin resistance. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2002;87:1555–9.

3. Ibanez L, Valls C, Ferrer A, Marcos MV, Rodriguez-Hierro F, de Zegher F. Sensitization to insulin induces ovulation in nonobese adolescents with anovulatory hyperandrogenism. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2001;86:3595–8.

4. Glueck CJ, Wang P, Fontaine R, Tracy T, Sieve-Smith L. Metformin to restore normal menses in oligo-amenorrheic teenage girls with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). J Adolesc Health. 2001;29:160–9.

5. Ibanez L, Valls C, Potau N, Marcos MV, de Zegher F. Sensitization to insulin in adolescent girls to normalize hirsutism, hyperandrogenism, oligomenorrhea, dyslipidemia, and hyperinsulinism after precocious pubarche. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2000;85:3526–30.

Send letters to afplet@aafp.org, or 11400 Tomahawk Creek Pkwy., Leawood, KS 66211-2680. Include your complete address, e-mail address, and telephone number. Letters should be fewer than 400 words and limited to six references, one table or figure, and three authors.

Letters submitted for publication in AFP must not be submitted to any other publication. Possible conflicts of interest must be disclosed at time of submission. Submission of a letter will be construed as granting the AAFP permission to publish the letter in any of its publications in any form. The editors may edit letters to meet style and space requirements.

This series is coordinated by Kenny Lin, MD, MPH, Associate Deputy Editor for AFP Online.



Copyright © 2004 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
This content is owned by the AAFP. A person viewing it online may make one printout of the material and may use that printout only for his or her personal, non-commercial reference. This material may not otherwise be downloaded, copied, printed, stored, transmitted or reproduced in any medium, whether now known or later invented, except as authorized in writing by the AAFP. Contact afpserv@aafp.org for copyright questions and/or permission requests.

Want to use this article elsewhere? Get Permissions


Jan 2022

Access the latest issue of American Family Physician

Read the Issue

Email Alerts

Don't miss a single issue. Sign up for the free AFP email table of contents.

Sign Up Now

Navigate this Article