Medical and surgical treatment of reproductive outcomes in polycystic ovary syndrome: An overview of systematic reviews

Moustafa A. Gadalla*, Robert J. Norman, Chau T. Tay, Danielle S. Hiam, Angela Melder, Jyotsna Pundir, Shakila Thangaratinam, Helena J. Teede, Ben W.J. Mol, Lisa J. Moran

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)
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Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common, complex condition that affects up to 18% of reproductive-aged women, causing reproductive, metabolic and psychological dysfunctions. We performed an overview and appraisal of methodological quality of systematic reviews that assessed medical and surgical treatments for reproductive outcomes in women with PCOS. Databases (MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL PLUS and PROSPERO) were searched on the 15th of September 2017. We included any systematic review that assessed the effect of medical or surgical management of PCOS on reproductive, pregnancy and neonatal outcomes. Eligibility assessment, data extraction and quality assessment by the Assessing the Methodological Quality of Systematic Reviews (AMSTAR) tool were performed in duplicate. We identified 53 reviews comprising 44 reviews included in this overview; the majority were moderate to high quality. In unselected women with PCOS, letrozole was associated with a higher live birth rate than clomiphene citrate (CC), while CC was better than metformin or placebo. In women with CC-resistant PCOS, gonadotrophins were associated with a higher live birth rate than CC plus metformin, which was better than laparoscopic ovarian drilling (LOD). LOD was associated with lower multiple pregnancy rates than other medical treatments. In women with PCOS undergoing in vitro fertilization/intracytoplasmic sperm injection (IVF/ICSI), the addition of metformin to gonadotrophins resulted in less ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), and higher pregnancy and live birth rates than gonadotrophins alone. Gonadotrophin releasing hormone (GnRH) antagonist was associated with less OHSS, gonadotrophin units and shorter stimulation length than GnRH agonist. Letrozole appears to be a good first line treatment and gonadotrophins, as a second line treatment, for anovulatory women with PCOS. LOD results in lower multiple pregnancy rates. However, due to the heterogeneous nature of the included populations of women with PCOS, further larger scale trials are needed with more precise assessment of treatments according to heterogeneous variants of PCOS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)257-270
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Fertility and Sterility
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2020


  • Infertility
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
  • Review
  • Therapeutics
  • Treatment Outcome


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