How is PCOS Diagnosed?
PCOS can be difficult to diagnose because women experience the syndrome to varying degrees. However, there are several methods a physician can use to determine if you have PCOS. Your doctor will begin by obtaining your medical history, especially relating to your menstrual cycles, and performing a physical exam.
Often blood tests are done to help identify any abnormal hormonal levels, particularly increased testosterone levels.
An ultrasound may be performed to determine if there are multiple cysts on the ovaries or if the ovaries are enlarged. However, this test is not necessary for the diagnosis.
If menstrual periods have been irregular or absent for a long period of time, an endometrial biopsy may be necessary to evaluate the endometrium and rule out pre-cancerous cells. This procedure involves taking a sample a sample of the endometrium and examining it under a microscope. Your physician will also try to rule out other possible causes of irregular menstruation and excessive hair growth, such as Cushing’s syndrome, congenital adrenal hyperplasia, or other disorders of the pituitary or adrenal glands.
Your doctor also may test your insulin and glucose levels to look for diabetes or insulin resistance (inefficient use of insulin in the body).
An oral glucose tolerance test gives the doctor information about how your body uses sugar (glucose). After an overnight fast (10-12 hours), you’ll be asked to drink a sweet solution containing a known amount of glucose. Blood is drawn before you drink the glucose solution, and again two hours after the drink is finished to see how your body was able to use the glucose. Although the test is complete in two hours, you should plan to be at your doctor’s office for three hours to allow time for preparation.
Used with permission by A. Dunaif.