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Am Fam Physician. 2004;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.

Email letter submissions to afplet@aafp.org. 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. Letters may be edited to meet style and space requirements.

This series is coordinated by Kenny Lin, MD, MPH, deputy editor.

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