Phenotypic comparison of Caucasian and Asian women with polycystic ovary syndrome: a cross-sectional study

Caucasian and Asian women with polycystic ovary syndrome living in the same geographic region have a similar prevalence of hirsutism and other markers for androgen excess.

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Erica T. Wang, M.D., M.S., Chia-Ning Kao, M.S., Kanade Shinkai, M.D., Ph.D., Lauri Pasch, Ph.D., Marcelle I. Cedars, M.D., Heather G. Huddleston, M.D.

Volume 100, Issue 1, Pages 214-218, July 2013



To determine whether manifestations of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), particularly androgen excess, differ between Caucasian and Asian women in the San Francisco Bay Area.


Cross-sectional study.


Multidisciplinary PCOS clinic at a tertiary academic center.


121 Caucasian and 28 Asian women, aged 18–44, examined between 2006 and 2011 with PCOS verified by a reproductive endocrinologist and dermatologist according to the Rotterdam criteria.


Transvaginal ultrasounds, comprehensive dermatologic exams, and serum testing.

Main Outcome Measure(s):

Hirsutism defined as a modified Ferriman-Gallwey (mFG) score ≥8, acne, androgenic alopecia, and biochemical hyperandrogenism.


Caucasian and Asian women had a similar prevalence of all measures of androgen excess. Both groups had similar total mFG scores and site-specific mFG scores, except Asian women had a lower site-specific mFG score for the chest. Although Asian women were more likely to use laser hair removal, the results were unchanged when the women with a history of laser hair removal were excluded.


Caucasian and Asian women with PCOS living in the same geographic region had a similar prevalence of hirsutism as well as other markers for androgen excess. Further studies are necessary to evaluate the need for ethnic-specific mFG scores in women with PCOS.

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