Polycystic ovary syndrome diagnosis
If you experience polycystic ovary syndrome symptoms and are having difficulty getting pregnant, your doctor will check to see if you have PCOS. However, there’s no one test to make the polycystic ovary syndrome diagnosis.
Before deciding on a polycystic ovary syndrome diagnosis, your doctor will make sure other conditions that can cause similar symptoms (especially adrenal, thyroid, and pituitary gland dysfunction) are ruled out.
Then your doctor will look for three key medical features of polycystic ovary syndrome to see if you have the condition: high levels of androgens, ovarian cysts, or lack of ovulation. The NIH points out some physicians go by one, two, or three of these criteria, along with other symptoms, to diagnose polycystic ovary syndrome.
Your doctor will go over your family history with you because, while there’s no known cause of polycystic ovary syndrome, the condition does run in families. Having a mother, sister, or aunt with polycystic ovary syndrome raises your risk for the disorder.
During a physical exam, your doctor will look for signs of excessive androgens (such as acne, skin discoloration, and excessive hair growth), take your blood pressure, and measure your waist to calculate your BMI. You’ll also have levels of androgens, glucose, and cholesterol checked with blood tests.
A pelvic exam or ultrasound will determine if there are cysts on your ovaries and if your uterus is thicker than normal — a common finding in polycystic ovary syndrome.
Polycystic ovarian syndrome treatment
Polycystic ovarian syndrome does not have a cure, but it can be treated to relieve symptoms and reduce your risk of other health problems, including heart disease.
Several medications are used for polycystic ovarian syndrome treatment. Hormone-based medications usually prescribed for birth control (including the birth control pill, patch, shot, and vaginal ring) are important polycystic ovarian syndrome treatments because they can help regulate your menstrual cycle. They may lower your risk of endometrial cancer, too. Birth control hormones containing both estrogen and progesterone can reduce excessive hair growth and help improve acne, as well.
February 27, 2020
Christopher Nystuen, MD, MBA