Criteria, prevalence, and phenotypes of polycystic ovary syndrome

Fertil Steril. 2016 Jul;106(1):6-15. doi: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2016.05.003. Epub 2016 May 24.


Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a highly prevalent disorder effecting reproductive-aged women worldwide. This article addresses the evolution of the criteria used to diagnosis PCOS; reviews recent advances in the phenotypic approach, specifically in the context of the extended Rotterdam criteria; discusses limitations of the current criteria used to diagnosis, particularly when studying adolescents and women in the peri- and postmenopause; and describes significant strides made in understanding the epidemiology of PCOS. This review recognizes that although there is a high prevalence of PCOS, there is increased variability when using Rotterdam 2003 criteria, owing to limitations in population sampling and approaches used to define PCOS phenotypes. Last, we discuss the distribution of PCOS phenotypes, their morbidity, and the role that referral bias plays in the epidemiology of this syndrome.

Keywords: Phenotypes; polycystic ovary syndrome; prevalence; referral bias.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Age of Onset
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Phenotype
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / classification
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / diagnosis*
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prevalence
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Reproduction
  • Reproductive Health
  • Risk Factors
  • Selection Bias
  • Young Adult