The PCOS Exam: What To Expect
For those of you who might be wondering if you have polycystic ovary syndrome, I’d like to demystify the PCOS medical evaluation. If you’ve taken our online PCOS quiz and got the message, “It is possible that you could have PCOS. You should make and appointment with your health care provider”, you’re probably thinking – now what? Okay, so let’s go through what typically happens at an appointment when PCOS is being considered. The evaluation should be complete so that other conditions that resemble PCOS can be dismissed.
Your health care provider will ask you a bunch of questions and you may be asked to complete a questionnaire.
A lot of questions will be centered on your period, such as: How old were you when you first got your period? How often does it come? Is it regular? How long does it last? What’s your flow like? How many pads/tampons do you need to use? Do you have cramps?
Other questions will include: Do you have acne or other skin problems? Do you have a hard time managing your weight? Do you have unwanted hair above your lip, face, or other areas? If so, do you do anything to remove it (wax, shave, laser)? Is there anyone in your family who has PCOS or diabetes?
You will have your blood pressure and height & weight checked and your health care provider will do a physical exam. This includes listening to your heart and lungs and checking for signs that you might have PCOS, such as: dark patches of skin on your neck, acne, and dark hair above your lip, sideburns, or your chest. Basically, your health care provider is trying to figure out if your reproductive system is working normally, or if you could possibly have PCOS.
After reviewing your medical and family history, and the findings of your exam, your health care provider may be able to make a preliminary diagnosis of PCOS; however, the next step is to do blood tests. The blood tests check your hormone levels, blood sugar, and cholesterol. Other blood tests may be done to make sure you don’t have a thyroid condition, too much of the hormone prolactin, or other rare problems.
Your health care provider may also want you to have an ultrasound test. In girls with PCOS, the ovaries may be slightly larger and have tiny cysts.
So that’s it really. Once your health team makes a diagnosis they will help you choose a PCOS treatment plan. For more information, check out the PCOS health guides on our website.