Comorbidities and complications of polycystic ovary syndrome: An overview of systematic reviews

Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2018 Dec;89(6):683-699. doi: 10.1111/cen.13828. Epub 2018 Sep 18.


Background: Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is one of the most common endocrinopathies affecting reproductive-aged women with adverse reproductive, metabolic and psychological outcomes. It has a complex pathophysiology and therefore requires a multidiscipline clinical approach. However, there remains limited research synthesizing the broad clinical implications of PCOS which would assist clinicians in the management of PCOS.

Objective: To summarize and appraise methodological quality of systematic reviews and meta-analyses evaluating complications and comorbidities associated with PCOS.

Methods: A literature search from MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL PLUS and PROSPERO was performed until 15 September 2017. Article selection, data extraction and quality appraisal of included reviews using the Assessing the Methodological Quality of Systematic Reviews (AMSTAR) tool were performed in duplicate. A narrative synthesis of the findings was conducted.

Results: Twenty-three reviews were included. All reviews were of low (n = 2) to moderate quality (n = 21). PCOS was associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes (n = 2), impaired glucose tolerance (n = 6), insulin resistance (n = 6), increased risk of type 2 diabetes (n = 1), cardiovascular disease (n = 10), metabolic syndrome (n = 2), psychological stress (n = 7), endometrial cancer (n = 1) and vitamin D deficiency (n = 1). Obesity exacerbates many of these outcomes.

Conclusions: There is a large body of reliable evidence for adverse metabolic outcomes and smaller, but consistent evidence for psychological issues in PCOS. We identified a shortage of systematic reviews regarding pregnancy outcomes of PCOS and significant gaps in knowledge of the association between PCOS and subclinical hyperthyroidism, vitamin D levels and cancers which future studies could aim to address.

Keywords: PCOS; comorbidity; hyperandrogenism; insulin resistance; metabolic syndrome; obesity; polycystic ovary syndrome.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperthyroidism / complications
  • Hyperthyroidism / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / blood
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / complications*
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / metabolism*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Vitamin D / blood


  • Vitamin D