Polycystic ovary syndrome, oral contraceptives and metabolic issues: new perspectives and a unifying hypothesis

Hum Reprod. 2007 Feb;22(2):317-22. doi: 10.1093/humrep/del407. Epub 2006 Nov 10.


In the chronic treatment of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), oral contraceptive pills (OCPs) are commonly used to induce regular menses, protect the endometrium and ameliorate androgenic symptoms. However, the long-term safety of OCP use in PCOS has not been established, and the literature reveals conflicting data concerning the metabolic effects of OCPs in this patient population, with outcomes ranging from improvement of glucose tolerance to the development of frank diabetes. This article presents new perspectives and a unifying hypothesis concerning the effects of OCPs on carbohydrate metabolism in PCOS and attempts to explain the divergent findings in published reports.

MeSH terms

  • Carbohydrate Metabolism / drug effects
  • Contraceptives, Oral, Combined / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Models, Biological
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / metabolism*


  • Contraceptives, Oral, Combined