Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) (cont.)
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When to Seek Medical Care for PCOS
It is appropriate to seek the advice of your health care practitioner if you have irregular or absent menstrual periods, abnormal or excessive hair growth, difficulty in getting pregnant, or any of the other troubling symptoms of PCOS.
Exams and Tests for PCOS
While the diagnosis of PCOS may be suggested by the characteristic symptoms, a number of laboratory tests can help establish the diagnosis and rule out other conditions that may be responsible for your symptoms.
Blood tests may be performed to evaluate levels of male hormones, such as DHEA and testosterone, as well as gonadotropins (hormones made in the brain that control production of hormones in the ovaries). Levels of hormones produced by the thyroid and adrenal glands may also be evaluated in order to exclude other causes of the symptoms.
Although the finding of cysts (small, fluid-filled sacs) in the ovaries is not conclusive for PCOS, many affected women will have polycystic ovaries. It is important to note that the presence of cysts in the ovaries is a common finding in women without PCOS as well. Imaging studies such as ultrasound can be safely used to demonstrate the presence of cysts in the ovaries. Ultrasound uses sound waves to generate an image of the ovaries; the procedure involves no radiation exposure or injected dyes and carries no risks for the patient. In some cases, particularly when other conditions such as ovarian or adrenal gland tumors are suspected, CT and MRI scans may be ordered.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/20/2017
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