Which manifestations of hyperandrogenism suggest polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)?

Updated: Sep 19, 2019
  • Author: Richard Scott Lucidi, MD, FACOG; Chief Editor: Richard Scott Lucidi, MD, FACOG  more...
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Answer

Hyperandrogenism clinically manifests as excess terminal body hair in a male distribution pattern. Hair is commonly seen on the upper lip, on the chin, around the nipples, and along the linea alba of the lower abdomen. Some patients have acne and/or male-pattern hair loss (androgenic alopecia).

Other signs of hyperandrogenism (eg, clitoromegaly, increased muscle mass, voice deepening) are more characteristic of an extreme form of PCOS termed hyperthecosis. These signs and symptoms could also be consistent with androgen-producing tumors, exogenous androgen administration, or virilizing congenital adrenal hyperplasia.

Premature adrenarche is a common occurrence and, in some cases, may represent a precursor to PCOS. Hirsutism and obesity may be present in premenarchal adolescent girls with PCOS.


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