How Do I know If I Have PCOS?

How do we all really know if we have PCOS?

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a relatively common hormonal disorder that can have a wide range of effects. Unfortunately, there is no single test that can show whether or not you have PCOS – instead, your doctor will make a diagnosis by asking you about your symptoms and conducting a physical exam.

How Do I Know If I Have PCOS?

Because there is no single test for PCOS, it can be difficult to make a diagnosis. Your doctor will make a diagnosis based on your symptoms, but PCOS has many symptoms and you may not have all of them. This means that it can be very difficult to narrow down the cause of your problems.

The following are some of the symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome:

  • Hirsutism – growth of hair in unwanted places, such as the chin, face, breasts or stomach
  • Hair loss – the hair on your head may start thinning
  • Weight issues – roughly half of all women with PCOS experience problems with weight gain
  • Acne/oily skin – because PCOS is a hormonal disorder, you may develop skin issues
  • Headaches – caused by the hormonal imbalance
  • Sleep problems – you may feel tired all the time, or have trouble falling asleep
  • Fertility issues – PCOS is one of the leading causes of infertility
  • Period problems – you may have an irregular period, or a period that goes on too long, or just heavy bleeding
  • Anxiety or depression – PCOS can often contribute to mental health problems

Do you see the problem? Why it’s so hard to diagnose PCOS?

The majority of the noticeable symptoms above could be caused by just about anything. They could be perfectly natural. Plenty of people have headaches, or don’t sleep well, or have oily skin and they don’t have PCOS. Because of this, many women ignore the symptoms completely.

If you experience any combination of the symptoms above, you may want to speak to your doctor about PCOS.

Which leads us to…

Diagnosis of PCOS

Your doctor will ask you a variety of questions about the signs and symptoms you’ve noticed, as well as your family medical history. Polycystic ovary syndrome can run in the family, if you know of a relative with issues getting pregnant, your doctor will want to know.

On top of this, your doctor will also perform a physical exam. This includes the basics – blood pressure, BMI, etc – but goes on to include a pelvic exam. This is exactly the same as any other normal checkup: the doctor will examine your vagina, cervix, uterus, ovaries, and so on, looking for anything out of the ordinary.

Your doctor may also perform an ultrasound on your ovaries – women with PCOS can have ovaries 150 to 300% larger than women without, and this usually shows up on the ultrasound. This will also show how thick your uterine lining is, and if there are any cysts on your ovaries.

You may also have a blood test done to check your hormone levels.

Your doctor may diagnose you with PCOS if you have at least 2 of the following:

  • Irregular periods
  • Higher levels of male hormones – this can be shown either by a blood test or by symptoms such as acne, hair thinning, or extra hair growth
  • Cysts on your ovaries

Where to from here?

Having a definitive diagnosis is a big victory! It may not feel like it, but it is. Living with polycystic ovary syndrome can put you under an enormous amount of stress, but knowing what’s causing your problems is a good place to start.

You may also like “Natural Remedies For PCOS“.