Prevalence and impact of hyperandrogenemia in 1,218 women with polycystic ovary syndrome

Endocrine. 2014 Nov;47(2):631-8. doi: 10.1007/s12020-014-0200-7. Epub 2014 Apr 22.


Hyperandrogenemia modifies phenotypic characteristics of women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). The aim of the present study is to evaluate (a) the prevalence of hyperandrogenemia in PCOS women (Rotterdam criteria) and (b) the impact of either the degree or the type of hyperandrogenemia on phenotype. Anthropometric, clinical, hormonal, metabolic and ultrasound characteristics of 1,218 women with PCOS were analyzed in this cross-sectional study. The prevalence of hyperandrogenemia was 58.8 %. Women with hyperandrogenemia had higher luteinizing hormone (LH), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), free androgen index, lower sex-hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) and fasting glucose levels compared to women with normal androgens (p < 0.001 for all comparisons; p = 0.001 for fasting glucose). Regarding the presence of isolated hyperandrogenemia, the group with only elevated testosterone levels was termed GT and an analogous categorization was made for dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (GD) and androstenedione (Δ4) (GΔ4), respectively. GT, GD and GΔ4 comprised the 17.2, 7.6 and 4.1 % of total cohort, respectively. These groups differed significantly between them in LH, LH/FSH ratio, and SHBG (p < 0.001). Hyperandrogenemia is found in almost 60 % of women with PCOS (Rotterdam criteria), and it affects hormonal characteristics of these women such as LH and SHBG values. Regarding the impact of isolated hyperandrogenemia on PCOS characteristics, it appears that Δ4 and testosterone elevations are associated with increased LH levels.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Androgens / blood
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone / blood
  • Humans
  • Hyperandrogenism / blood
  • Hyperandrogenism / epidemiology*
  • Luteinizing Hormone / blood
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / blood
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Prevalence
  • Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin / analysis
  • Young Adult


  • Androgens
  • Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin
  • Luteinizing Hormone
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone