Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
Exams and Tests
No single test can show that you have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Your doctor will talk to you about your medical history, do a physical exam, and run some tests.
The medical history includes questions about your symptoms. Your doctor may ask you about changes in your weight, skin, hair, and menstrual cycle. He or she may also ask you about problems with getting pregnant, medicines you are taking, and your eating and exercise habits.
You will also talk about any family history of hormone problems, including diabetes.
The physical exam checks your Reference thyroid Opens New Window gland, skin, hair, breasts, and belly. You will have a blood pressure check and a Reference pelvic exam to find out if you have enlarged or abnormal ovaries. Your doctor can also check your Reference body mass index (BMI) Opens New Window.
You may have a Reference pelvic ultrasound, which might show enlarged ovaries with small cysts. These are signs of PCOS. But many women with PCOS don't have these signs.
You may have blood tests to check for:
- Reference Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), to find out if you are pregnant.
- Reference Testosterone, an Reference androgen Opens New Window. Androgens at high levels can block Reference ovulation Opens New Window and cause acne, male-type hair growth on the face and body, and hair loss from the scalp.
- Reference Prolactin, which can play a part in a lack of menstrual cycles or infertility.
- Reference Cholesterol and triglycerides, which can be at unhealthy levels with PCOS.
- Reference Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) Opens New Window to check for an overactive or underactive thyroid.
- Reference Adrenal gland Opens New Window hormones, such as DHEA-S or Reference 17-hydroxyprogesterone. An adrenal problem can cause symptoms much like PCOS.
- Glucose tolerance and insulin levels, which can show Reference insulin resistance Opens New Window.
Testing for problems from PCOS
Diabetes. If you have PCOS, experts recommend that you have Reference blood glucose testing for diabetes by age 30.Reference 3 You may have this done at a younger age if you have PCOS and other risk factors for diabetes (such as obesity, lack of exercise, a family history of diabetes, or Reference gestational diabetes Opens New Window during a past pregnancy). After this, your doctor will tell you how often to have testing for diabetes.
Heart disease. Your doctor will regularly check your Reference cholesterol and triglycerides, blood pressure, and weight. This is because PCOS is linked to higher risks of high blood pressure, weight gain, high cholesterol, heart disease, hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), heart attack, and stroke.
Uterine (endometrial) cancer. Regular menstrual cycles normally build up and "clear off" the uterine lining every month. When the uterine lining builds up for a long time, precancer of the uterine lining (Reference endometrial hyperplasia Opens New Window) can grow. If you have had infrequent menstrual periods for at least 1 year, your doctor may use a Reference transvaginal ultrasound and/or Reference endometrial biopsy to look for signs of precancer or cancer.Reference 4
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference February 7, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference Patrice Burgess, MD - Family Medicine
Reference Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology