Article Text

Download PDFPDF

A guide to understanding polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  1. W Colin Duncan
  1. Scottish Senior Clinical Fellow and Consultant in Reproductive Medicine, MRC Centre for Reproductive Health, The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr W Colin Duncan, MRC Centre for Reproductive Health, The Queen's Medical Research Institute, The University of Edinburgh, 47 Little France Crescent, Edinburgh EH16 4TJ, UK; W.C.Duncan{at}


Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the commonest endocrine disorder affecting women of reproductive age. Some 20% of women will have polycystic ovaries on an ultrasound scan and around 7% of women have the additional clinical or biochemical features of PCOS. As a complex multisystem disorder its background can be confusing to understand. They key feature, however, is an increased production of androgen by the ovaries. This review uses ovarian biology to describe a strategy to aid understanding and explanation of PCOS. This framework can be also be used to teach about PCOS and to inform different approaches to its management.

  • polycystic ovary syndrome
View Full Text

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.

Linked Articles

  • Highlights from this issue
    British Medical Journal Publishing Group