Get a Diagnosis
Print this list and bring it to your doctor if you think you have PCOS. If your doctor is unfamiliar with PCOS or the illness’ other names, or downplays the seriousness of the disorder, you may want to seek a second opinion.
The following tests, provided by Steven Petak, M.D., former chair of the reproductive medicine committee of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, will help your physician diagnose PCOS.
1. The diagnosis of PCOS starts with a medical history and examination, blood tests and sometimes a pelvic ultrasound.
2. Hormone levels need to be evaluated. Some hormonal studies may come back with apparently “normal” readings, even though a hormonal imbalance exists. This is because the standard ranges of many laboratories are so wide that they are not able to differentiate normal test results from high results. Dr. Petak suggests reviewing the test results to determine if the testosterone level is over 40 nanograms per deciliter, or if the DHEAS is over 200 micrograms per deciliter. If the values for these hormone tests are higher, then the levels are probably abnormally elevated and further evaluation by an endocrinologist is recommended.
3. Fasting insulin and glucose levels may also be done to determine if there is insulin resistance which may be characteristic of the dysmetabolic syndrome.
4. Blood chemistries and lipid levels should be done to determine if there is a cholesterol problem or disease of other organs. “Blood lipids (LDL-the bad cholesterol; HDL-the good cholesterol; and triglycerides) are often abnormal in this disorder,” says Dr. Petak.
5. A prolactin level may also be done to determine if there is a pituitary problem. “Prolactin (milk hormone) elevation can cause high male hormone levels in some patients and can be a sign of a benign pituitary growth.”
6. A chemistry profile to check kidney and liver function is important to ensure there are no other significant disorders present.
Your doctor can access the recently published American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists’ guidelines on hyperandrogenism at www.aace.com.
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