Indexed on: 31 Jul '13Published on: 31 Jul '13Published in: Climacteric : the journal of the International Menopause Society
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is the most common endocrine disorder in the reproductive age group; it is characterized by oligo-ovulation or anovulation, hyperandrogenism and the presence of polycystic ovaries. It affects 8-10% of women in the reproductive age group and its main presentations are irregular periods, hirsutism and infertility in this group. Women with PCOS have impaired glucose tolerance, dyslipidemia, and increased risk of type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. The phenotype of PCOS in menopausal women is difficult to define. Studies have included previous history of oligomenorrhea, infertility and hyperandrogenism (clinical or biochemical) to describe the phenotype for postmenopausal women. Hyperandrogenism seen in PCOS women persists after the menopausal transition. Similarly, PCOS women continue to manifest the metabolic alterations such as insulin resistance after menopause, which makes them more susceptible to type 2 diabetes mellitus. The metabolic syndrome occurs more often in women with PCOS and has been shown to be associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Whether PCOS itself causes an increased cardiovascular disease risk later in life is still uncertain. This dilemma needs to be solved since young women with PCOS may be required to undergo expensive investigations and screening for cardiovascular disease, whilst their true disease risk is still unknown.