Geographical Prevalence of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome as Determined by Region and Race/Ethnicity

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2018 Nov 20;15(11):2589. doi: 10.3390/ijerph15112589.


Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is thought to be the most common endocrine disorder found in women. Common symptoms include irregular menstrual cycle, polycystic ovaries, and hirsutism, as well as an increased risk for a multitude of conditions, including insulin resistance, dyslipidemia and infertility. The prevalence of polycystic ovarian syndrome is generally thought to be between 3% and 10% but it is widely unknown for specific subpopulations based on geographical location and race/ethnicity. Based on the high degree of variability and inconsistencies between the different diagnostic criteria, there is a unique challenge that exists when determining the prevalence of this syndrome. There are a large percentage of individuals that remain undiagnosed even after visiting multiple health care providers. Most studies conducted across the world are limited by small sample size, selection bias, and lack of comparability across studies. There have been very few studies that have examined the prevalence of polycystic ovary syndrome across the United States. Based on the National Institutes of Health (NIH)'s diagnostic criteria, there is a similar prevalence of PCOS documented across the United States, the United Kingdom, Spain, Greece, Australia, and Mexico. Other studies have shown some differences between geographical location and race. The existing data is not conclusive enough to determine whether or not there is any significant differences in the prevalence of PCOS across geographical location, racial or ethnic groups. This review will seek to determine the prevalence of polycystic ovarian syndrome based on geographical location and race/ethnicity.

Keywords: diagnostic criteria; ethnicity; polycystic ovary syndrome; prevalence; race; regions.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ethnicity
  • Female
  • Geographic Mapping
  • Global Health
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / ethnology
  • Prevalence
  • Women's Health