Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) affects almost 5 million women in the United States. PCOS is a lifelong health condition that affects women well beyond their childbearing years.
You can develop serious health problems from PCOS, but a PCOS test eliminates the worry and helps you get your health back on track. You don't have to suffer from this common condition alone. Help is available for PCOS.
Keep reading this guide if you think you may have polycystic ovaries syndrome symptoms and want a PCOS test. You'll find out everything you need to know about PCOS and PCOS tests.
What is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Polycystic ovary syndrome is a common hormonal disorder for women. When you have PCOS, it disrupts the hormonal balance that's necessary for normal ovulation.
The follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) causes follicles and eggs to develop. Then luteinizing hormone (LH) causes the follicle to release the egg.
If this balance is disrupted, small cysts form on the ovary instead of an egg releasing, disrupting your hormonal balance even further. Sometimes when women don't make enough hormones to ovulate normally for an extended time, the ovaries develop numerous small cysts.
These small cysts make the hormone androgen (sex hormones), specifically testosterone, and when these levels become too high, many symptoms of PCOS start to occur.
Risk Factors of PCOS
PCOS runs in families, but it's not known how exactly it goes from generation to generation. So, if you have a mother or sister with PCOS, you're at higher risk too.
Stress, environmental pollution, obesity, diet, and exercise habits all play a part in PCOS development.
Causes of PCOS
The exact cause of PCOS isn't known, but certain factors are thought to contribute to it.
Your body produces insulin in the pancreas, which allows your cells to use sugar for their energy supply. If your body becomes resistant to insulin, your blood sugars rise to cause you to make even more insulin.
Having too much insulin in your body increases how much androgens your body produces, which leads to difficulty with ovulation.
Next is inflammation. Most women with PCOS have a type of low-grade inflammation that affects their entire body. This inflammation stimulates the ovaries to make more testosterone, the male sex hormone androgen.
Simply having high levels of androgens in your body can trigger the onset of PCOS.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Symptoms
Polycystic ovary syndrome symptoms often begin from the very first menstrual cycle, but this varies. Often, PCOS symptoms are challenging to pinpoint, as symptoms mimic those of other conditions. Symptoms you'll likely notice with PCOS include:
- Irregular or light periods
- Missed periods
- Large ovaries with many cysts
- Excess body hair on your back, chest, and stomach
- Oily skin
- Thinning hair
Symptoms and signs of PCOS tend to become severe if you're overweight or obese.
Complications of PCOS
Polycystic ovary disease can be severe and causes other long-term medical complications far beyond infertility.
PCOS can cause pregnancy complications like miscarriages, premature birth, high blood pressure in pregnancy, and gestational diabetes.
In addition, PCOS can cause metabolic syndrome. This syndrome is a group of conditions that occur all at once, which increases your risk of heart disease. These include increased blood pressure, increased blood sugar, high triglyceride or cholesterol levels, and excess body fat in the waist.
Other complications PCOS causes include:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Liver inflammation
- Sleep apnea
- Increased risk of uterine cancer
- Abnormal uterine bleeding
Your doctor will ask you all about your current symptoms and past medical history. You'll also likely have a pelvic exam to check your reproductive organ health.
Often many symptoms of PCOS are due to other health problems, so you'll need to have further tests to confirm. Typically, your doctor will order an ultrasound to assess the size of your ovaries, check for cysts, and evaluate the thickness of your uterine lining.
Next, you'll need to undergo blood tests to look at your hormone levels as well as other basic bloodwork. The results of your physical exam, ultrasound, and bloodwork will determine if PCOS is causing your problems.
PCOS Lab Tests
No single PCOS test can diagnose PCOS, so doctors usually order a combination of blood tests to help confirm a diagnosis.
The Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) Screening Panel from Ulta Labs is a great place to start.
Your doctor will check your testosterone level initially to see if you're producing too many androgens. Usually, the testosterone level is high when you have PCOS.
Next is the follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) level, which is usually normal or low in PCOS. Along with the FSH level, your doctor will check your luteinizing hormone (LH). The LH is generally high if you have PCOS.
Other tests ordered to rule out other conditions include a thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) to check for a thyroid disorder and a cortisol level to check for Cushing syndrome. A human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) test is often ordered to check for pregnancy.
To assess your overall health, your doctor will also order a comprehensive metabolic profile, as well as check your glucose and insulin levels. To get a picture of your risk for heart disease, you'll also have your cholesterol and triglycerides checked.
PCOS Risk Panels
You can also order a PCOS Risk Panel from Ulta Lab Tests to assess your overall risk of developing the condition. The panel checks markers like insulin, glucose, thyroid, triglyceride, cholesterol levels, and more. This test will give you a good idea of where you stand.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Treatment
Although there is no cure for PCOS, treatments can reduce symptoms and dramatically improve your quality of life.
Your first course of treatment starts with making lifestyle changes. It's essential to maintain a healthy weight with PCOS since obesity can cause severe symptoms and complications. You'll also need to change your diet, eat foods high in fiber, and exercise daily.
PCOS treatment also includes medications to regulate your hormone levels. If you're planning to become pregnant, your doctor might prescribe medications to help your ovaries release eggs and cause ovulation.
If you're not planning on pregnancy, you can be prescribed birth control pills to normalize menstrual cycles, reduce acne, and regulate hormone levels.
Sometimes, doctors prescribe diabetes medications to lower your insulin resistance, reduce androgen levels, and help you ovulate normally.
FAQS About PCOS
Did you know PCOS is also referred to as Stein-Levanthal syndrome? In 1935, two American gynecologists Dr. Michael L. Leventhal and Dr. Irving Stein, Sr., first discovered the connection between ovarian cysts and ovulation.
PCOS can occur either right before puberty or later on in life, but it's challenging to assess PCOS in women who have already started menopause as hormone levels begin to change.
Weight loss, exercise, and proper nutrition is the best way to lower your insulin resistance and drastically reduce your PCOS symptoms. By the age of 40, almost half of all women with PCOS develop diabetes or pre-diabetes.
You can still have regular menstrual cycles with PCOS, and not everyone with PCOS has cysts on their ovaries. You can still be diagnosed with PCOS if you have only high androgen levels and irregular periods.
PCOS affects your ability to breastfeed as milk production is often not adequate with PCOS.
Caring for Yourself With PCOS
Many women struggle with the obvious physical symptoms of PCOS like weight gain, acne, and extra hair growth. And a lot of women choose to have laser hair removal or other cosmetic treatments to feel better about the changes in their appearance.
Your mental health is essential, so don't forget to incorporate some self-care and mindfulness into your daily routine to help you deal with your symptoms. If you're feeling more down or depressed than usual, talk to your doctor about the symptoms bothering you and figure out a plan.
Remember, a PCOS diagnosis doesn't mean you're sentenced to a life of feeling lousy every day. Hope and health are on the horizon. You can take charge of your healing and make lifestyle changes that will bring your body back into balance.
Ordering Your PCOS Test with Ulta Lab Tests
Now that you have learned a little more about PCOS, it is time to take charge of your health and order the PCOS test that is right for you today. Select from the PCOS tests that Ulta Lab Tests offer to screen, monitor, and track your results and health. You won't be disappointed.
Benefits of PCOS Lab Testing with Ulta Lab Tests
Ulta Lab Tests provides direct access to order PCOS lab tests from Quest Diagnostics that are highly accurate and reliable. Our PCOS lab panels are designed to include specific tests to detect, monitor, and track your condition.
Benefits include secure and confidential results, no insurance or referral needed, affordable price including the doctor's order, and more.
Secure and Confidential Results
Your test results are secure and confidential when you order a PCOS test with Ulta Lab Tests. They'll be sent directly to your secure patient portal typically in 1 to 2 days and no one else, so you can feel comfortable knowing you're taking care of your health without having to worry anyone else.
No Insurance or Referral Needed
One of the reasons you may be hesitant to get a test is because you don't have insurance or are uncertain of the cost. You might not be able to afford a doctor to give you a referral, or it may take months to get an appointment. We cut through all this red tape and make low-cost lab testing available to you.
Affordable Pricing Including the Doctor's Order
We also make our pricing affordable to get the PCOS test you need without paying an exorbitant amount. This includes the Doctor's Order, which saves you more money than you'd have to pay for the traditional route.
Prices for our tests are transparent, starting at $12.95, and are covered using Health Savings and Flexible Spending Accounts.
Finally, we provide a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If you aren't happy with our service, we'll work to make it right.
Take control of your health today with Ulta Lab Tests.