Prevention of diabetes and cardiovascular disease in women with PCOS: treatment with insulin sensitizers

Best Pract Res Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2006 Jun;20(2):245-60. doi: 10.1016/j.beem.2006.02.003.


Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the most common cause of anovulatory infertility in United States, affecting 6-10% of females in the reproductive age group. Recent studies have shown that insulin resistance plays an important role in the pathogenesis of PCOS. Traditionally, management of PCOS consisted mainly of ovulation induction, treatment of acne and hirsutism, and prevention of endometrial cancer. However, with mounting evidence showing that PCOS is associated with dysmetabolic syndrome and an increased risk for developing diabetes and heart disease, this can no longer be our sole focus. Current data support a strong recommendation that women with PCOS should undergo comprehensive evaluation for diabetes and recognized cardiovascular risk factors and receive appropriate treatment as needed. Lifestyle modifications remain the first-line therapy for all obese women with PCOS. However, many obese women with PCOS find weight loss difficult to achieve and maintain, and this is not an option for lean women with PCOS. For these reasons, insulin-sensitizing drugs are proving to be a promising and unique therapeutic option for chronic treatment of PCOS.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / prevention & control*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology
  • Metformin / therapeutic use
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / complications*
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Risk
  • Risk Reduction Behavior
  • Thiazolidinediones / therapeutic use


  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Thiazolidinediones
  • Metformin