Time to talk about the various diagnostic tests one goes through if suspected of PCOS and what does that mean! Now I am not going to include everything, just some of the most commonly done tests because when your doctor prescribes them, more often than not, either you don’t understand the need for it or if you do, the source is google so I thought I would make things even easier for you here, hope this helps.
Ultrasonogram or Ultrasound scan (USG)
USG is one the most commonly done investigation for PCOS, however, it is important to remember, the diagnosis of PCOS does not depend primarily on ultrasound as there is the possibility of having the syndrome without having actual cysts. A scan can be an important tool to assess your reproductive health especially if you are struggling with infertility in PCOS. A scan is also a window to your functional anatomy and it helps to rule out any other abnormality that may exist.
This test includes some of the most important hormones – Serum LH, Serum FSH and Serum Prolactin. These hormones are released from our brain to act specifically on our reproductive organs by stimulating estrogen and progesterone. In PCOS, however, there is a severe imbalance of these hormones. Normally the LH and FSH ratio is 1:1 in women but in PCOS, LH is 2-3 times the FSH. Serum prolactin can also be raised in many women. Estrogen remains high whereas progesterone is extremely low which explains the lack of the normal menstrual cycles in many women.
(FSH – Follicle stimulating hormone, LH – Luteinizing hormone)
Serum DHEA-S or Dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate
This is another very important investigation that tells about the functioning of your adrenal glands. The adrenal glands are the small glands situated above your kidneys on either side and its malfunctioning is related to the excess production of androgens in females with PCOS which can lead to the symptoms of excessive facial hair growth, acne, and even hair fall. Women with PCOS may have raised DHEA-S levels and the treatment would differ so it’s important for your doctor to know how your adrenals are functioning.
Testosterone is a male hormone that is present in very small amounts in normal females too, however, in women with PCOS because of excess androgen production, serum testosterone levels may be extremely high causing all of their symptoms. This is also one of the important investigation to assess the severity of PCOS.
Blood sugar levels
Women with PCOS have extremely high chances of developing diabetes later in life as most of them struggle with insulin resistance which is why it’s important to look at fasting as well as postprandial (after food) sugar levels. If deranged levels are found, separate therapy is implicated.
Many women with PCOS usually have thyroid hormone imbalance along with other hormonal imbalances. More commonly hypothyroidism which adds on to slowing down of metabolism and weight gain in PCOS. It’s important to know how well your thyroid glands are functioning as they play a very important role in maintaining your reproductive health.
Many women with PCOS are also advised to get their lipid profile done especially in patients with morbid obesity to evaluate different risks and advice on appropriate lifestyle modifications which is more often therapeutic in these women. Raised triglycerides levels or rather lower HDL levels are the definite risk factor for heart disease in future.
So, those were some of the most common tests ordered in patients with PCOS, hope it helped you understand the significance of each one of them. You can always write me back if you have any questions. Have a great PCOS week ahead!