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Will the Name for PCOS Be Changed?
On many women diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome, an ultrasound examination will uncover numerous small cysts. These "cysts" are really immature egg follicles on the ovaries, and they are the reason the condition, which is hormonal in nature, is called polycystic ovary syndrome or PCOS.
However, a woman can have PCOS without having polycystic ovaries, and there are a range of health issues related to PCOS. The high levels of insulin can lead to high cholesterol, the hardening of arteries, high blood pressure, and coronary artery disease, which all can lead to a heart attack.
An independent panel convened by National Institutes of Health recently concluded that the name "PCOS" is a distraction and it is time to assign a name that reflects the complex interactions that characterize the syndrome. The panel recommended that a new name be chosen that encompasses the whole picture of PCOS to “enhance recognition of this major public health issue, educational outreach, ‘branding,’ and public relations, and will assist in expanding research support.”
In addition, there are currently three diagnostic classification systems used for PCOS, which, according to the panel, hinders the ability of clinicians to successfully partner with women in addressing the health issues that concern them. The panel supports physicians' use of the Rotterdam diagnostic criteria for PCOS, which diagnoses the syndrome based on the presence of two out of three criteria:
- abnormal periods
- excessive production or secretion of androgens
- polycystic ovaries
Standardization of the classification system would be helpful for patients and clinicians going forward. I agree with the Rotterdam classification requiring two out of three abnormalities to define PCOS. A name change seems reasonable, but it may take some time to be well accepted by physicians and patients.