Fasting glucose measurement as a potential first step screening for glucose metabolism abnormalities in women with anovulatory polycystic ovary syndrome

Hum Reprod. 2013 Aug;28(8):2228-34. doi: 10.1093/humrep/det226. Epub 2013 Jun 5.


Study question: Is routine screening by oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) needed for all women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)?

Summary answer: Screening for glucose metabolism abnormalities of PCOS patients by an OGTT could potentially be limited to patients who present with a fasting glucose concentration between 6.1 and 7.0 mmol/l only.

What is known already: Women with PCOS are at increased risk of developing diabetes. This study proposes a stepwise screening strategy for (pre)diabetes for PCOS patients based on risk stratification by fasting plasma glucose.

Study design, size, duration: A cross-sectional study of 226 women diagnosed with anovulatory PCOS.

Participants and setting: A consecutive series of 226 patients, diagnosed with PCOS at the University Medical Centre Utrecht, the Netherlands, were screened for glucose metabolism abnormalities by OGTT (75 g glucose load).

Main results and role of chance: The majority of the 226 women (mean age: 29.6 ± 4.3 years; BMI: 27.3 ± 6.7 kg/m(2); 81% Caucasian) presented with a normal OGTT (169 women (75%)). Of the 57 (25%) women presenting with mild to moderate glucose abnormalities, 53 (93%) could be identified by fasting glucose concentrations only. Diabetes was diagnosed in a total of eight women (3.5%). In six women, the diagnosis was based on fasting glucose >7.0 mmol/l. The other two cases of diabetes initially presented with fasting glucose between 6.1 and 7.0 mmol/l and were diagnosed by OGTT assessment. No women diagnosed with diabetes presented with fasting glucose levels below 6.1 mmol/l. We therefore conclude that all diabetes patients could potentially be found by initial fasting glucose assessment followed by OGTT only in patients with fasting glucose between 6.1 and 7.0 mmol/l.

Limitations, reasons for caution: Before general implementation can be advised, this screening algorithm should be validated in a prospective study of a similar or greater number of PCOS women.

Wider implications of the findings: Our study comprised of a mostly Caucasian (81%) population, therefore generalization to other ethnic populations should be done with caution.

Study funding/competing interest(s): No external finance was involved in this study. B.C.J.M.F. has received fees and grant support from the following companies (in alphabetic order); Andromed, Ardana, Ferring, Genovum, Merck Serono, MSD, Organon, Pantharei Bioscience, PregLem, Schering, Schering Plough, Serono and Wyeth. A.J.G. has received fees from Abbott, Bayer Schering and IBSA. T.W.H. has received fees from Merck, Sharpe & Dohme, GlaxoSmithKline, NovoNordisk and Eli Lilly. The authors declare complete independence from funders.

Clinical trial registration number: NCT00821379.

Keywords: OGTT; diabetes; fasting; glucose; polycystic ovary syndrome.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Glucose*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Fasting
  • Female
  • Glucose Tolerance Test
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / blood*
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / complications
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / metabolism


  • Blood Glucose

Associated data