Wednesday, February 06, 2008

What are the most appropriate treatments for patients with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCO) who desire fertility?

Well ASRM and ESHRE had a consensus meeting last year and here is the abstract (most important points highlighted in bold by me):

Consensus on infertility treatment related to polycystic ovary syndrome.

The treatment of infertile women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is surrounded by many controversies. On the basis of the currently available evidence, a group of experts reached a consensus regarding the therapeutic challenges raised in these women. Before any intervention is initiated, preconceptional counseling should be provided emphasizing the importance of lifestyle, especially weight reduction and exercise in overweight women, smoking, and alcohol consumption. The recommended first-line treatment for ovulation induction remains the anti-estrogen clomiphene citrate (CC). Recommended second-line intervention, should CC fail to result in pregnancy, is either exogenous gonadotropins or laparoscopic ovarian surgery (LOS). The use of exogenous gonadotropins is associated with increased chances for multiple pregnancy, and, therefore, intense monitoring of ovarian response is required. Laparoscopic ovarian surgery alone is usually effective in less than 50% of women, and additional ovulation induction medication is required under those circumstances. Overall, ovulation induction (representing the CC-gonadotropin paradigm) is reported to be highly effective with a cumulative singleton live-birth rate of 72%. Recommended third-line treatment is in vitro fertilization (IVF). More patient-tailored approaches should be developed for ovulation induction based on initial screening characteristics of women with PCOS. Such approaches may result in deviation from the above mentioned first-line, second-line, or third-line ovulation strategies in well-defined subsets of patients. Metformin use in PCOS should be restricted to women with glucose intolerance. Based on recent data available in the literature, the routine use of this drug in ovulation induction is not recommended. Insufficient evidence is currently available to recommend the clinical use of aromatase inhibitors for routine ovulation induction. Even singleton pregnancies in PCOS are associated with increased health risk for both the mother and the fetus.

Source : Fertility And Sterility via MEDLINE
I think it is very important to note that this consensus document confirms what most reproductive endocrinologists already know and that is that Metformin (Glucophage) is a lousy fertility drug. For a while it seemed to be very promising and at some point it was being prescribed (by some) to all PCOS patients. But today it is quite clear that only a subgroup of patients will benefit from this drug. More on this in the future!

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