How Do You Know If You Have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?

Posted on July 5, 2018 by NYRW

The common hormonal disorder polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) affects many women of reproductive age. It occurs when the woman's adrenal glands or ovaries produce more-than-normal male hormones and can lead to a small cyst forming in the ovary, disrupting hormonal balance. Women with PCOS have a hormonal balance and problems with their metabolism.

Of women of childbearing years, one in every 10 women are affected by polycystic ovary syndrome.

Symptoms of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Symptoms of PCOS include:

  • Excessive body or facial hair
  • Irregular menstrual periods (they occur infrequently or last a long time)
  • Absent or infrequent adolescent menstruation
  • Male-pattern baldness
  • Unexplained weight gain or obesity
  • Acne
  • Pregnancy-related issues like miscarriage, difficulty becoming pregnant or infertility

After a fertility evaluation, many women with PCOS are still able to have a baby after receiving fertility treatments like an IVF or IUI.

Diagnosing Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Doctors check for three features characteristic of PCOS. These are:

  1. High levels of androgens
  2. The absence of ovulation
  3. Cysts on the ovaries

When you have one or more of these characteristic features, doctors usually give a PCOS diagnosis. Your doctor will also rule out other problems and conditions that could cause the same types of symptoms.

Some conditions they might rule out include:

  • Problems with thyroid gland function
  • Hyperplasia (excess adrenal gland hormone production)
  • Hyperprolactinemia (excess pituitary gland production of the prolactin hormone)

After your doctor rules out other conditions, they'll perform several other things before giving you an official PCOS diagnosis. These include:

Take Blood Samples

Your doctor will check your blood sugar, cholesterol and androgen levels.

Obtain your Family History

Your doctor will inquire about your infertility history and menstrual cycle. They'll also inquire about any family members with PCOS, if it runs in your family or if any family members share the same symptoms as you.

Perform a Physical Exam

Your doctor will perform a full physical exam to check for things like:

  • Acne
  • Extra hair growth
  • Other signs of high androgen hormone levels

They'll also measure your waist, take your blood pressure and measure your body fat according to your weight and height.

Perform an Ultrasound or Pelvic Exam to Check your Ovaries

Your doctor will check for cysts on your ovaries during your pelvic exam. They may also suggest an ultrasound to see if they can spot any ovary cysts. They'll check if your periods are irregular and how thick your uterus lining is.

If you're concerned about your menstrual period, have signs of excess androgen like acne, hirsutism or male-pattern baldness or are experiencing infertility, see your doctor.



American Society for Reproductive Medicine
College of American Pathologists
Fertile Hope
Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology
Logos Mobile