How Do You Test for PCOS?
May 30, 2022

How Do You Test for PCOS?

Is it possible you have PCOS, or are your mind and body deceiving you? There are several ways to test for PCOS to rule out other causes that may be causing the same symptoms. Read on to know more.

Do you have PCOS or suspect that you have it? Many women of childbearing age are susceptible to developing PCOS, or polycystic ovary syndrome, a common but treatable medical condition. It's characterised by excessive production of androgens, which are male sex hormones. More than 80 percent of women with PCOS have high androgen levels, whereas women without PCOS only have trace amounts.

Symptoms of elevated androgen levels include irregular periods, excessive hair growth, fertility issues, weight gain, hair loss and acne.

The signs of PCOS typically manifest at an early age, usually after your first period. But, this isn’t the case for everyone! Getting the diagnosis can be quite difficult, even if you exhibit the symptoms. The reason for this is that many other health conditions mirror PCOS symptoms as well.

What is PCOS testing?

There’s no single test that can determine whether you have PCOS. Your healthcare provider will recommend a test based on your medical history and symptoms. A pelvic ultrasound, as well as a physical exam and blood tests may be performed to assess your hormone levels.

PCOS tests in adolescents typically entail laboratory work aimed at detecting the health of the ovaries on ultrasound and the presence of polycystic ovaries. This imaging test can help your doctor assess the size and appearance of your ovaries.

Because there is no single definitive test for PCOS, your healthcare provider may suggest a combination of other tests, including an oral glucose tolerance test to measure insulin levels.

It can be useful to track your period to determine any irregularities. You might also feel inclined to track your weight and see if you're gaining or losing weight. Of course, this is up to you.

If you’re diagnosed with PCOS, don’t fret, you have so many treatment options!

Treatment and management of PCOS

While PCOS is often inherited, lifestyle, nutrition and environmental factors can also contribute to it. Obese women have a 10-fold increased risk of developing it than women of normal weight. While some drugs, such as birth control pills and weight loss medications, are considered first-line therapy for PCOS by some gynaecologists and endocrinologists, natural health practitioners and integrative GPs believe that changing lifestyle factors can help to protect from PCOS complications, such as:

  • Endometrial cancer
  • Heart disease or any cardiovascular disease
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Type 2 diabetes mellitus
  • High blood pressure
  • Uterine cancer

You can make several lifestyle modifications to help manage your PCOS symptoms. These include eating a healthy diet, getting moderate exercise every day and managing your stress levels (just to name a few!). To help reduce excess hair growth, you could also try natural supplements like saw palmetto or spearmint tea

If you’re having issues conceiving, please speak with your doctor about your options for treatment.

If you think you have PCOS, consult your healthcare provider immediately so you can receive an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. With the right treatment, you can manage PCOS symptoms and live a full life!

Dr Michelle Woolhouse

Integrative GP and Vively Medical Director

Dr Michelle Woolhouse is an integrative GP, with over 20 years experience treating chronic conditions through lifestyle medicine