PCOS or polycystic ovarian syndrome is a common condition in women which results from the development of multiple cysts in the ovaries. PCOS can cause serious problems to health and fertility. PCOS is considered a form of prediabetes and is also linked to heart disease. Signs and symptoms of PCOS include irregular menstrual periods, heavy periods, excess body and facial hair, acne, pelvic pain, difficulty in getting pregnant and patches of thick, darker, velvety skin. There is no single test that can be used to diagnose polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Instead, there are various factors that should be considered, and a diagnosis can be made based on the findings and tests.
Physical exam – This includes the measurement and the analysis of your blood pressure (BP), body mass index (BMI) and the circumference of the waist. The doctor will also examine your skin and look out for any unwanted hair growth on the face, body along with acne and skin discolouration. Your doctor may look for any hair loss or signs of other health conditions (such as an enlarged thyroid gland).
Pelvic exam- Your doctor may do a pelvic exam for signs of extra male hormones (for example, an enlarged clitoris) and check to see if your ovaries are enlarged or swollen.
Pelvic ultrasound (sonogram)- This test uses sound waves to examine your ovaries for cysts and check the endometrium (lining of the uterus or womb).
Blood tests- Blood tests shall be done to check your androgen hormone levels also known as the “male hormones.” Your doctor will also check for other hormones related to other common health problems that can be mistaken for PCOS, such as thyroid disease. Apart from this, your doctor may also test your cholesterol and sugar levels.
A diagnosis of PCOS can usually be made if other causes of the same symptoms have been ruled out and the patient meets at least two of the following three criteria:
Irregular periods or infrequent periods – indicates that your ovaries don’t regularly release eggs (ovulate)
Blood tests showing high levels of “male hormones”, such as testosterone (or sometimes just the signs of excess male hormones, even if the blood test is normal)