Treatment of the infertile patient with polycystic ovarian syndrome

Obstet Gynecol Surv. 2002 Sep;57(9):587-97. doi: 10.1097/00006254-200209000-00022.


Polycystic ovarian syndrome is associated with infertility due to anovulation caused by this disorder. Many treatments can increase both ovulation and fertility rates in these women. This is a comprehensive review of the literature, with an emphasis on randomized controlled trials of the medical and surgical treatment options for women with polycystic ovarian syndrome and infertility. Both standard and novel treatments are addressed. In the past, clomiphene citrate was the first-line medical treatment for subfertility in these women, followed by gonadotropins with or without gonadotropin releasing-hormone agonists for those women with clomiphene-resistance. Surgical treatments such as ovarian drilling were occasionally added to these regimens. The introduction of the insulin-sensitizing agents as adjuvants to clomiphene citrate and gonadotropins has changed the treatment strategy. The evidence in support of this change will be discussed. Data on the use of glucocorticoids, opioid receptor antagonists, and antiandrogens as adjuvants to standard therapies, as well as surgical treatments such as wedge resection and ovarian drilling will also be discussed. Based upon the evidence, medical treatment remains the primary therapy for women with this syndrome, especially in light of the recent introduction of insulin-sensitizing agents to the treatment armamentarium. These drugs have allowed us to develop less aggressive therapies that are safer and easier for women to utilize, and may in the future become the primary treatment for women with this syndrome.

Target audience: Obstetricians & Gynecologists, Family Physicians Learning Objectives: After completion of this article, the reader will be able to explain the pathophysiology of PCOS, to list the factors that predispose women to develop PCOS, and to outline the treatment regiments for PCOS-associated infertility.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anovulation / etiology
  • Anovulation / therapy
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infertility, Female / etiology
  • Infertility, Female / therapy*
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / therapy*