Diagnosis

There’s no specific test to definitively diagnose polycystic ovary syndrome. The diagnosis is one of exclusion, which means your doctor considers all of your signs and symptoms and then rules out other possible disorders.

During this process, you and your doctor will discuss your medical history, including your menstrual periods, weight changes and other symptoms. Your doctor may also perform certain tests and exams:


Physical exam:

  • During your physical exam, your doctor will note several key pieces of information, including your height, weight and blood pressure


Pelvic exam:

  • During a pelvic exam, your doctor visually and manually inspects your reproductive organs for signs of masses, growths or other abnormalities

Blood Tests

Your doctor may order the following blood tests to check for:

Testosterone: Androgens (male hormone) at high levels can block ovulation and cause acne, male-type hair growth on the face and body, and hair loss from the scalp.

Prolactin, which can play a part in a lack of menstrual cycles or infertility.

Cholesterol and triglycerides, which can be at unhealthy levels with PCOS.

Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) to check for an overactive or underactive thyroid.

Adrenal gland hormones, such as DHEAS or 17-hydroxyprogesterone. An adrenal problem can cause symptoms much like PCOS.

Glucose tolerance and insulin levels, which can show insulin resistance.

Diabetes. If you have PCOS, experts recommend that you have blood glucose testing for diabetes by age 30.3 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 gestational diabetes 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 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.

Ultrasound:

  • An ultrasound exam can show the appearance of your ovaries and the thickness of the lining of your uterus. During the test, you lie on a bed or examining table while a wand-like device (transducer) is placed in your vagina (transvaginal ultrasound). The transducer emits inaudible sound waves that are translated into images on a computer screen. Alternatively, a pelvic transabdominal ultrasound may also be performed by a doctor. This is done by moving the transducer across the lower abdomen. Some pressure may be applied to get a good image. 

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