Ovulation induction in polycystic ovary syndrome

J Obstet Gynaecol Can. 2010 May;32(5):495-502. doi: 10.1016/S1701-2163(16)34504-2.


Objective: To review current non-pharmacologic and pharmacologic options for ovulation induction in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

Options: This guideline reviews the evidence for the various options for ovulation induction in PCOS.

Outcomes: Ovulation, pregnancy and live birth rates, risks, and side effects are the outcomes of interest.

Evidence: Published literature was retrieved through searches of Medline using appropriate controlled vocabulary and key words. Results were restricted to systematic reviews, randomized control trials/controlled clinical trials, and observational studies. Grey (unpublished) literature was identified through searching the websites of health technology assessment and of health technology assessment-related agencies, clinical practice guideline collections, clinical trial registries, and national and international medical specialty societies.

Values: The evidence gathered was reviewed and evaluated by the Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility Committee of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada. The quality of evidence was quantified using the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care.

Benefits, harms, and costs: Benefits include weight reduction and improvements in ovulation, pregnancy, and live birth rates. Potential harms include medication side effects and multiple pregnancies.

Validation: These guidelines have been reviewed and approved by the Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility Committee of the SOGC.

Sponsor: The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada. RECOMMENDATIONS 1. Weight loss, exercise, and lifestyle modifications have been proven effective in restoring ovulatory cycles and achieving pregnancy in overweight women with PCOS and should be the first-line option for these women. (II-3A) Morbidly obese women should seek expert advice about pregnancy risk. (III-A) 2. Clomiphene citrate has been proven effective in ovulation induction for women with PCOS and should be considered the first-line therapy. Patients should be informed that there is an increased risk of multiple pregnancy with ovulation induction using clomiphene citrate. (I-A) 3. Metformin combined with clomiphene citrate may increase ovulation rates and pregnancy rates but does not significantly improve the live birth rate over that of clomiphene citrate alone.(I-A) Metformin may be added to clomiphene citrate in women with clomiphene resistance who are older and who have visceral obesity. (I-A) 4. Gonadotropin should be considered second-line therapy for fertility in anovulatory women with PCOS. The treatment requires ultrasound and laboratory monitoring. High costs and the risk of multiple pregnancy and ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome are drawbacks of the treatment. (II-2A) 5. Laparoscopic ovarian drilling may be considered in women with clomiphene-resistant PCOS, particularly when there are other indications for laparoscopy. (I-A) Surgical risks need to be considered in these patients. (III-A) 6. In vitro fertilization should be reserved for women with PCOS who fail gonadotropin therapy or who have other indications for IVF treatment. (II-2A).

Publication types

  • Practice Guideline

MeSH terms

  • Canada
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infertility, Female / etiology
  • Infertility, Female / therapy*
  • Ovulation Induction / methods*
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / complications*
  • Pregnancy