Everything You Need to Know about PCOS Screening and Diagnosis
Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome is a complex endocrinological problem. Talking about the diagnosis, there is no single test to deduce the confirmation of PCOS in a patient. As it poses a combination of several problems including hormonal, psychological, gynecological, and fertility issues, the diagnosis also involves investigation of all aspects of this disease.
There are no clear-cut single diagnostic criteria for PCOS as far, however, If you report to your doctor (GP or a gynecologist) and they suspect PCOS, you are most likely going the get the following tests done before receiving a diagnosis of PCOS from them:
You will be asked if you have a family history of PCOS i.e. Is any of your blood relation relatives like your mother, grandmother, sisters, or aunt suffering from PCOS already or are facing similar symptoms?
This is because PCOS is considered to be a genetically inherited disease to some extent i.e., it is known to run in families. Therefore, it is important to obtain a proper family history while diagnosing PCOS.
You will be asked about the health concerns you are facing. This includes the symptoms of concern, how long you have been noticing them and their severity with time, etc.
Any recent changes in weight (Significant unintentional gain or loss),
Body hair amount and growth rate,
Menstrual irregularities (Absence of periods/ very scanty or heavy flow)
Difficulty getting pregnant
Sudden mood changes
Having 3 or more of these symptoms means you are most likely having PCOS. However; further investigation is necessary to rule out any other possible cause of these symptoms.
The doctor will most likely carry out a general physical examination to access the overall body conditions. Your weight and height might be measured to calculate your BMI.
They will also themselves look for signs of Excessive unwanted hair growth (Hirsutism), hormonal acne, skin discoloration, and other possible physical symptoms of PCOS.
This procedure involves using Ultrasound radiation to access the inside of your body and the size and condition of your internal organs. Two types of Ultrasound procedures are usually performed for PCOS diagnosis:
The probe is placed on the lower belly where the ovaries and Uterus are present after applying friction-reducing jell. This gives an inner picture of the ovaries and uterus (Female reproductive Organs). There are several (20 or above) fluid-filled cysts on the ovaries in patients with PCOS. This is the diagnostic criteria for Confirmation of PCOS.
The fluid-filled sacs or cysts are immature eggs (along with their follicular fluid) that have not been released by the ovaries. This is what results in anovulatory (without egg release) monthly cycles in PCOS. These anovulatory cycles are the culprits for difficulty conceiving while suffering from PCOS.
Although not always, a transvaginal ultrasound may also be performed while screening for PCOS. It is an invasive procedure that involves a pen-shaped device being inserted into the vagina to get a clear picture of your internal organs.
However, it is usually not performed in girls below 20 years of age and those who are not sexually active.
Blood tests are performed to determine the level of hormones in your body. These tests mainly include the following female hormones:
Oestradiol (Estrogen levels)
It maintains and regulates the female reproductive development during puberty and its functions
FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone)
It causes the maturation of follicles containing the egg
LH (Luteinizing Hormone)
The surge of this hormone typically on the 14th day of your menstrual cycle causes the release of egg from the ovary, a process called Ovulation
Anti- Mullerian hormone
Also known as menopause hormone, it limits follicular development and recruitment and causes its arrest.
Tests to access the adrenal functions and male hormone levels in the body:
Androstenedione, the male hormone which is significantly increased in PCOS
Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG)
Dihydroependisterone (DHEA), a hormone released from the pancreas
For diabetic screening and insulin resistance, other Blood tests include:
Fasting and random blood glucose levels
Once the diagnosis is made, your doctor is likely to recommend getting your blood glucose levels and blood pressure checked routinely since PCOS increases the risk of TYPE 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
In addition, to rule out any other condition resulting in similar symptoms the doctor may also recommend getting the following measured:
Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH)
Since hypothyroidism may also mimic some of the PCOS symptoms.
PCOS is an immensely prevailing disease nowadays. Every other woman is suffering from this condition. We have concluded everything you need to know about PCOS diagnosis and screening. If you are the one suspecting PCOS, we highly recommend getting yourself checked by the doctor to get a veritable diagnosis and management of your condition.