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      The effect of exercise as an intervention for women with polycystic ovary syndrome : A systematic review and meta-analysis

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          Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) affects reproductive-aged women and is associated with increased prevalence of serious clinical problems including: reproductive implications, metabolic dysfunction, and cardiovascular risk. Physical activity offers several health benefits for women with PCOS. The aim of this systematic review was to synthesize evidence on the effect of different types of exercise on reproductive function and body composition for women with PCOS.


          This was a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) following recommended review methods. We searched 6 databases: Cumulative Index of Nursing and Allied Health Literature; Embase; MEDLINE ( via Ovid); PubMed; Sport Discus; and Web of Science; and we developed search strategies using a combination of Medical Subject Headings terms and text words related to exercise interventions for women with PCOS. There was no restriction on language or publication year. The search was conducted on April 16, 2019 and updated on November 15, 2019. Two authors independently screened citations, determined risk of bias and quality of evidence with Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation. We conducted meta-analyses following recommended guidelines, and report results using standardized mean difference (SMD).


          Ten RCTs (n = 533) were included in this review. Studies tested the following interventions: aerobic, resistance, and combined (aerobic/resistance) training programs. Most studies were small (average 32, range 15–124 participants), and of relatively short duration (8–32 weeks). There was high heterogeneity for outcomes of reproductive function (menstrual cycle, ovulation, and fertility). We noted low certainty evidence for little to no effect of exercise on reproductive hormones and moderate certainty evidence that aerobic exercise reduced body mass index (BMI) in women with PCOS: BMI SMD −0.35, 95% confidence interval −0.56 to −0.14, P = .001.


          For women with PCOS, evidence is limited to discern the effect of exercise on major health outcomes (e.g., reproductive function). There is moderate certainty evidence that aerobic exercise alone is beneficial for reducing BMI in women with PCOS. Future studies should be conducted with longer duration, larger sample sizes, and should provide detailed information on menstrual cycle and fertility outcomes.

          PROSPERO Systematic review registration: 2017 CRD42017058869.

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          Most cited references 33

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          Clinical assessment of body hair growth in women.

           D FERRIMAN,  J Gallwey (1961)
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            Recommendations from the international evidence-based guideline for the assessment and management of polycystic ovary syndrome

            Study Question: What is the recommended assessment and management of women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), based on the best available evidence, clinical expertise, and consumer preference? Summary Answer: International evidence-based guidelines including 166 recommendations and practice points, addressed prioritized questions to promote consistent, evidence-based care and improve the experience and health outcomes of women with PCOS. What Is Known Already: Previous guidelines either lacked rigorous evidence-based processes, did not engage consumer and international multidisciplinary perspectives, or were outdated. Diagnosis of PCOS remains controversial and assessment and management are inconsistent. The needs of women with PCOS are not being adequately met and evidence practice gaps persist. Study Design, Size, Duration: International evidence-based guideline development engaged professional societies and consumer organizations with multidisciplinary experts and women with PCOS directly involved at all stages. Appraisal of Guidelines for Research and Evaluation (AGREE) II-compliant processes were followed, with extensive evidence synthesis. The Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development, and Evaluation (GRADE) framework was applied across evidence quality, feasibility, acceptability, cost, implementation and ultimately recommendation strength. Participants/Materials, Setting, Methods: Governance included a six continent international advisory and a project board, five guideline development groups, and consumer and translation committees. Extensive health professional and consumer engagement informed guideline scope and priorities. Engaged international society-nominated panels included pediatrics, endocrinology, gynecology, primary care, reproductive endocrinology, obstetrics, psychiatry, psychology, dietetics, exercise physiology, public health and other experts, alongside consumers, project management, evidence synthesis, and translation experts. Thirty-seven societies and organizations covering 71 countries engaged in the process. Twenty face-to-face meetings over 15 months addressed 60 prioritized clinical questions involving 40 systematic and 20 narrative reviews. Evidence-based recommendations were developed and approved via consensus voting within the five guideline panels, modified based on international feedback and peer review, with final recommendations approved across all panels. Main Results and the Role of Chance: The evidence in the assessment and management of PCOS is generally of low to moderate quality. The guideline provides 31 evidence based recommendations, 59 clinical consensus recommendations and 76 clinical practice points all related to assessment and management of PCOS. Key changes in this guideline include: i) considerable refinement of individual diagnostic criteria with a focus on improving accuracy of diagnosis; ii) reducing unnecessary testing; iii) increasing focus on education, lifestyle modification, emotional wellbeing and quality of life; and iv) emphasizing evidence based medical therapy and cheaper and safer fertility management. Limitations, Reasons for Caution: Overall evidence is generally low to moderate quality, requiring significantly greater research in this neglected, yet common condition, especially around refining specific diagnostic features in PCOS. Regional health system variation is acknowledged and a process for guideline and translation resource adaptation is provided. Wider Implications of the Findings: The international guideline for the assessment and management of PCOS provides clinicians with clear advice on best practice based on the best available evidence, expert multidisciplinary input and consumer preferences. Research recommendations have been generated and a comprehensive multifaceted dissemination and translation program supports the guideline with an integrated evaluation program. Study Funding/Competing Interest(S): The guideline was primarily funded by the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia (NHMRC) supported by a partnership with ESHRE and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Guideline development group members did not receive payment. Travel expenses were covered by the sponsoring organizations. Disclosures of conflicts of interest were declared at the outset and updated throughout the guideline process, aligned with NHMRC guideline processes. Full details of conflicts declared across the guideline development groups are available at https://www.monash.edu/medicine/sphpm/mchri/pcos/guideline in the Register of disclosures of interest. Of named authors, Dr Costello has declared shares in Virtus Health and past sponsorship from Merck Serono for conference presentations. Prof. Laven declared grants from Ferring, Euroscreen and personal fees from Ferring, Euroscreen, Danone and Titus Healthcare. Prof. Norman has declared a minor shareholder interest in an IVF unit. The remaining authors have no conflicts of interest to declare. The guideline was peer reviewed by special interest groups across our partner and collaborating societies and consumer organizations, was independently assessed against AGREEII criteria and underwent methodological review. This guideline was approved by all members of the guideline development groups and was submitted for final approval by the NHMRC
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              Exercise therapy in polycystic ovary syndrome: a systematic review.

              Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common endocrine disorder, affecting 8-12% of women. Lifestyle modification, including increased physical activity, is the first-line approach in managing PCOS. A systematic review was performed to identify and describe the effect of exercise as an independent intervention on clinical outcomes in PCOS. Five databases were searched with no time limit. A pre-specified definition of PCOS was not used. Studies were included if exercise therapy (aerobic and/or resistance) could be evaluated as an independent treatment against a comparison group. Outcomes measured included cardiovascular risk factors [insulin resistance (IR), lipid profiles, blood pressure and weight] and reproductive measures (ovulation, menstrual regularity and fertility outcomes). Quality analysis was performed based on the Cochrane Handbook of Systematic Reviews and the Quality of Reporting of Meta-Analyses checklist. Eight manuscripts were identified (five randomized controlled trials and three cohort studies). All studies involved moderate intensity physical activity and most were of either 12 or 24 weeks duration with frequency and duration of exercise sessions ranging between studies. The most consistent improvements included improved ovulation, reduced IR (9-30%) and weight loss (4.5-10%). Improvements were not dependant on the type of exercise, frequency or length of exercise sessions. Exercise-specific interventions in PCOS are limited. Studies vary considerably in design, intensity and outcome measures; therefore conclusive results remain elusive. Larger, optimally designed studies are needed to both gain insights into the mechanisms of exercise action and to evaluate the public health impact of exercise of PCOS.

                Author and article information

                Medicine (Baltimore)
                Medicine (Baltimore)
                Wolters Kluwer Health
                April 2020
                17 April 2020
                : 99
                : 16
                [a ]Health Sciences Postgraduate Program, Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte, Natal, Brazil
                [b ]Department of Family Practice, The University of British Columbia
                [c ]Centre for Hip Health and Mobility, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
                [d ]Biotechnology Postgraduate Program and Medicine School, Potiguar University of Rio Grande do Norte
                [e ]Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics
                [f ]Department of Physical Activity, Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte, Natal, Brazil.
                Author notes
                []Correspondence: Paulo Moreira Silva Dantas, Department of Physical Activity, Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte, Natal, Brazil (e-mail: pgdantas@ 123456ufrnnet.br ).
                MD-D-19-06819 19644
                Copyright © 2020 the Author(s). Published by Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.

                This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0 (CCBY), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0

                Research Article
                Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
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