The prevalence of polycystic ovary syndrome in reproductive-aged women of different ethnicity: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Tao Ding, Paul J. Hardiman, Irene Petersen, Fang-Fang Wang, Fan Qu _ and Gianluca Baio

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:96351-96358. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.19180

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Tao Ding1, Paul J. Hardiman2, Irene Petersen3, Fang-Fang Wang4,2, Fan Qu4,2 and Gianluca Baio1

1Department of Statistical Science, University College London, London, United Kingdom

2Institute for Women’s Health, University College London Medical School, London, United Kingdom

3Department of Primary Care and Population Health, University College London, London, United Kingdom

4Women’s Hospital, School of Medicine, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China

Correspondence to:

Fan Qu, email: [email protected]

Fang-Fang Wang, email: [email protected]

Keywords: polycystic ovary syndrome, prevalence, ethnicity, systematic review

Received: May 24, 2017     Accepted: June 30, 2017     Published: July 12, 2017


The prevalence of PCOS was investigated in many studies in different continents. However, there is no established prevalence of PCOS for distinct ethnic groups. In the current analysis, we conducted searches in PubMed, The Cochrane Library, EMBASE, CINAHL up to Jan. 2017 to identify studies reporting prevalence of PCOS in the general female population. Forty-two studies were identified, with 13 eligible for evidence synthesis. The prevalence among different ethnicity was estimated using random effect modelling. Our results suggested the lowest prevalence in Chinese women(2003 Rotterdam criterion: 5.6% 95% interval: 4.4–7.3%), and then in an ascending order for Caucasians (1990 NIH criterion: 5.5% 95% interval: 4.8–6.3%), Middle Eastern (1990 NIH 6.1% 95% interval: 5.3–7.1%; 2003 Rotterdam 16.0% 95% interval: 13.8–18.6%; 2006 AES 12.6% 95% interval: 11.3–14.2%), and Black women (1990 NIH: 6.1% 95% interval: 5.3–7.1%).There is variation in prevalence of PCOS under different diagnostic criteria and across ethnic groups. This emphasises the need for ethnicity-specific guidelines for PCOS to prevent under- or over-diagnosis of the condition given that under-diagnosis may lead to rapid conversion of metabolic disorders for patients whereas over-diagnosis may exert negative psychological effects on patients which worsens the major symptoms of PCOS.

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