Adolescent Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Due to Functional Ovarian Hyperandrogenism Persists Into Adulthood

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Menstrual irregularity and above-average testosterone levels in adolescence may presage polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) in adulthood but persist in only a minority. Prolonged anovulatory cycles in normal adolescents are associated with increased testosterone levels. Thus, questions have been raised about the accuracy of PCOS diagnosed in adolescents.


The purpose of this study was to follow-up hyperandrogenic adolescents with features of PCOS to test the hypothesis that adolescent functional ovarian hyperandrogenism (FOH) persists into adulthood.

Study Subjects:

A series of adults previously reported to have adolescent PCOS, with most documented to have FOH by GnRH agonist or dexamethasone androgen-suppression test criteria, were recalled.


Recall occurred >3 years after the initial diagnosis and at the age of >18.0 years. Respondents underwent examination, baseline androgen evaluation, and an oral glucose tolerance test after discontinuing oral contraceptive therapy.


Of the adolescent hyperandrogenic patients, 68% (15 of 22) were traceable, and 60% of those traced returned for follow-up, including half (n = 8) of the original FOH group. The baseline characteristics of respondents and nonrespondents were not significantly different. Patients with FOH were reevaluated when their mean age was 23.0 years (range, 18.4–29.4 years), gynecologic age was 10.7 years (range, 5.5–18.4 years), and body mass index was 42.3 kg/m2 (range, 28.3–52.1 kg/m2; P = .02 vs adolescence). Serum free testosterone was 24 pg/mL (range, 10–38 pg/mL, normal, 3–9 pg/mL; not significant vs adolescence); all were oligomenorrheic. Whereas 3 of 8 had impaired glucose tolerance as adolescents, at follow-up 6 of 8 had developed abnormal glucose tolerance (2 with type 2 diabetes mellitus).


Adolescents with FOH, which underlies most PCOS, uniformly have persistent hyperandrogenism, and glucose tolerance tends to deteriorate. Testing ovarian androgenic function in hyperandrogenic adolescents may be of prognostic value.

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