Friday, January 15, 2010

How do you know you have PCOS??

   Hi, my name is Arielle! I have been struggling with PCOS since pretty much forever, but I got the diagnosis 4 years ago. This blog is mainly about how to deal with the awful symptoms of having PCOS but I thought it would be appropriate to begin with knowing if you even have the disease. If this sounds like you, go see a doctor soon, it will help you feel control in your life again, and hopefully help you start to feel better!
   I know I personally struggled with getting doctors to take me seriously for years that I had PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), mainly because I did not look like a regular patient that has PCOS- I was "Skinnier" than they usually see. Finally 4 years ago an awesome PA (Physician Assistant) actually listened to me, and got me in for an ultrasound and some blood work. That visit literally changed my life:) GOOD LUCK! Here are the symptoms...

The symptoms of PCOS include:

• irregular or no menstrual periods
• polycystic ovaries (countless cysts on your ovaries)
• acne
• obesity (in some people, there are skinny PCOS women)
• excess hair growth.

Other signs and symptoms of PCOS include:

• weight gain
• acne
• oily skin
• dandruff
• infertility
• skin discoloration
• high cholesterol level
• elevated blood pressure
• abnormal hair growth and distribution
- and thinning hair on scalp

***Any of the above symptoms and signs may be absent in PCOS, with the exception of irregular or no menstrual periods. All women with PCOS will have irregular or no menstrual periods. Women who have PCOS do not regularly ovulate; that is, they do not release an egg every month. This is why they do not have regular periods.

- I found this PCOS symptom check list from:

   Now, if this sounds like you and you are going to a doctor’s visit, understand that doctors are kind-of new to this disease called "Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome", and you may have to really stick to your guns and almost make them listen and take you seriously. You are your best advocate!!!

Here's a list of what the doctors should be testing for:

Laboratory Tests

• FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone), will be normal or low with PCOS
• LH (Luteinizing Hormone), will be elevated
 LH/FSH ratio. This ratio is normally about 1:1 in premenopausal women, but with PCOS a ratio of greater than 2:1 or 3:1 may be considered diagnostic
• Prolactin will be normal or low
• Testosterone, total and/or free, usually elevated
• DHEAS (may be done to rule out a virilizing adrenal tumor in women with rapidly advancing hirsutism), frequently mildly elevated with PCOS
• 17-ketosteroids (urine metabolites of androgens, used to evaluate adrenal function) elevated or decreased?
• Estrogens, may be normal or elevated
• Sex hormone binding globulin, may be reduced
• Androstenedione, may be elevated
• HCG (Human chorionic gonadotropin), used to check for pregnancy, negative
• Lipid profile (low HDL, high LDL, and cholesterol, elevated triglycerides)
• Glucose, fasting and/or a glucose tolerance test, may be elevated
• Insulin, often elevated
• TSH (Thyroid stimulating hormone) some who have PCOS are also hypothyroid

Non-Laboratory Tests

Ultrasound, transvaginal and/or pelvic/abdominal are used to evaluate enlarged ovaries. With PCOS, the ovaries may be 1.5 to 3 times larger than normal and characteristically have more than 8 follicles per ovary, with each follicle less than 10 mm in diameter. Often the cysts are lined up on the surface the ovaries, forming the appearance of a "pearl necklace." These ultrasound findings are not diagnostic. They are present in more than 90% of women with PCOS, but they are also found in up to 25% of women without PCOS.

-I found this list of PCOS tests from: Lab Tests Online


  1. Good for you Arielle! I think what you are doing is great!! Keep it up!

  2. Just an FYI - you can have very regular periods (or bleeds) and NOT ovulate.

  3. ... and still have PCOS.. just thought you should know.