Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

Order a PCOS test to aid in diagnosing Polycystic Ovary Syndrome by checking your testosterone levels to determine if you are producing excess androgens, your sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) to see if it is reduced, and your Anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH) to see if it is elevated. Ulta Lab Tests provides affordable, reliable blood work and secure testing, so order today!


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17-hydroxyprogesterone is elevated in patients with congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH). CAH is a group of autosomal recessive diseases characterized by a deficiency of cortisol and an excess of ACTH concentration. 17-hydroxyprogesterone is also useful in monitoring cortisol replacement therapy and in evaluating infertility and adrenal and ovarian neoplasms.

Androstenedione is useful when evaluating patients with androgen excess and managing patients with Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH).

Apolipoprotein A1 (APO A1) has been reported to be a better predictor than HDL cholesterol and triglycerides for Coronary Artery Disease (CAD). Low levels of APO A1 in serum are associated with increased risk of CAD. The measurement of APO A1 may be of value in identifying patients with atherosclerosis. Apolipoprotein B (APO B) has been reported to be a more powerful indicator of CAD than total cholesterol or LDL cholesterol in angiographic CAD and in survivors of myocardial infarction. In some patients with CAD, APO B is elevated even in the presence of normal LDL cholesterol.

Increased CRP levels are found in inflammatory conditions including: bacterial infection, rheumatic fever, active arthritis, myocardial infarction, malignancies and in the post-operative state. This test cannot detect the relatively small elevations of CRP that are associated with increased cardiovascular risk.

C-Reactive Protein Cardiac (hs CRP) Useful in predicting risk for cardiovascular disease.


There is a correlation between increased risk of premature heart disease with decreasing size of LDL particles. Ion mobility offers the only direct measurement of lipoprotein particle size and concentration for each lipoprotein from HDL3 to large VLDL.

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Urinary Free Cortisol is useful in the detection of patients with Cushing's syndrome for whom Free Cortisol concentrations are elevated.

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Serum creatinine is useful in the evaluation of kidney function and in monitoring renal dialysis. A serum creatinine result within the reference range does not rule out renal function impairment: serum creatinine is not sensitive to early renal damage since it varies with age, gender and ethnic background. The impact of these variables can be reduced by an estimation of the glomerular filtration rate using an equation that includes serum creatinine, age and gender.

DHEA is a weakly androgenic steroid that is useful when congenital adrenal hyperplasia is suspected. It is also useful in determining the source of androgens in hyperandrogenic conditions, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome and adrenal tumors.

DHEA-S is the sulfated form of DHEA and is the major androgen produced by the adrenal glands. This test is used in the differential diagnosis of hirsute or virilized female patients and for the diagnosis of isolated premature adrenarche and adrenal tumors. About 10% of hirsute women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) have elevated DHEA-S but normal levels of other androgens.

DHEA-S is the sulfated form of DHEA and is the major androgen produced by the adrenal glands. This test is used in the differential diagnosis of hirsute or virilized female patients and for the diagnosis of isolated premature adrenarche and adrenal tumors. About 10% of hirsute women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) have elevated DHEA-S but normal levels of other androgens.


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Measuring the circulating levels of estradiol is important for assessing the ovarian function and monitoring follicular development for assisted reproduction protocols. Estradiol plays an essential role throughout the human menstrual cycle. Elevated estradiol levels in females may also result from primary or secondary ovarian hyperfunction. Very high estradiol levels are found during the induction of ovulation for assisted reproduction therapy or in pregnancy. Decreased estradiol levels in females may result from either lack of ovarian synthesis (primary ovarian hypofunction and menopause) or a lesion in the hypothalamus-pituitary axis (secondary ovarian hypofunction). Elevated estradiol levels in males may be due to increased aromatization of androgens, resulting in gynecomastia.

IMPORTANT - Note this Estradiol test is not for children that have yet to start their menstrual cycle.  If this test is ordered for a child that has yet to begin their menstrual cycle Quest Diagnostics labs will substitute in Estradiol, Ultrasensitive LC/MS/MS - #30289 at an additional charge of $34


Estrogens are secreted by the gonads, adrenal glands, and placenta. Total estrogens provide an overall picture of estrogen status for men and women.

This test is useful in the differential diagnosis of pituitary and gonadal insufficiency and in children with precocious puberty.

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FSH and LH are secreted by the anterior pituitary in response to gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GNRH) secreted by the hypothalamus. In both males and females, FSH and LH secretion is regulated by a balance of positive and negative feedback mechanisms involving the hypothalamic-pituitary axis, the reproductive organs, and the pituitary and sex steroid hormones. FSH and LH play a critical role in maintaining the normal function of the male and female reproductive systems. Abnormal FSH levels with corresponding increased or decreased levels of LH, estrogens, progesterone, and testosterone are associated with a number of pathological conditions. Increased FSH levels are associated with menopause and primary ovarian hypofunction in females and primary hypogonadism in males. Decreased levels of FSH are associated with primary ovarian hyper-function in females and primary hypergonadism in males. Normal or decreased levels of FSH are associated with polycystic ovary disease in females. In males, LH is also called interstitial cell-stimulating hormone (ICSH). Abnormal LH levels with corresponding increased or decreased levels of FSH, estrogens, progesterone, and testosterone are associated with a number of pathological conditions. Increased LH levels are associated with menopause, primary ovarian hypofunction, and polycystic ovary disease in females and primary hypo-gonadism in males. Decreased LH levels are associated with primary ovarian hyperfunction in females and primary hyper-gonadism in males.

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Serum glucose levels may be abnormally high (hyperglycemia) or abnormally low (hypoglycemia). Glucose measurements are used in the diagnosis and treatment of carbohydrate metabolic disorders including diabetes mellitus, idiopathic hypoglycemia, and pancreatic islet cell neoplasm.

This test is used for the routine diagnosis of diabetes in children and the non-pregnant adult. For pregnant females see test "Glucose Tolerance Test, Gestational, 4 Specimens (100 g)". For appropriate interpretation of this test, the patient must fast overnight and ingest a 75 g load of glucose, immediately after, a fasting specimen is obtained. For children, the glucose load is 1.75 g/Kg of ideal body weight, up to 75 g glucose. The diagnosis of diabetes is made if the fasting glucose is ?126 mg/dL or if the 2-hour specimen is ?200 mg/dL.

This test is specific for hCG beta subunit and offers sensitivity necessary to detect pregnancy as early as ten days post conception.

hCG may reach detectable limits within 7-10 days of conception. hCG is produced by the placenta and reaches a peak between the 7th and 10th week of gestation. hCG is a glycoprotein hormone produced by the syncytiotrophoblast of the placenta and secreted during normal pregnancy and with pathologic conditions such as hydatidiform mole, choriocarcinoma and testicular neoplasm. Order hCG, Total, Qualitative, Urine, if hCG serum result is inconsistent with clinical presentation.

A Hemoglobin (Hb) A1c Blood Test evaluates the average amount of glucose in the blood. The A1c test will help determine whether you are at a higher risk of developing diabetes; to help diagnose diabetes and prediabetes; to monitor diabetes and to aid in treatment decisions.

To assist with control of blood glucose levels, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) has recommended glycated hemoglobin testing (HbA1c) twice a year for patients with stable glycemia, and quarterly for patients with poor glucose control. Interpretative ranges are based on ADA guidelines.


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Insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I, or somatomedin C), a protein involved in stimulating somatic growth, is regulated principally by growth hormone (GH) and nutritional intake. IGF-I is transported in serum by several proteins; this helps maintain relatively high IGF-I plasma levels and minimizes fluctuations in serum IGF-I concentrations. Measuring IGF-I is useful in several growth-related disorders. Dwarfism caused by deficiency of growth hormone (hypopituitarism) results in decreased serum levels of IGF-I, while acromegaly (growth hormone excess) results in elevated levels of IGF-I. IGF-I measurements are also helpful in assessing nutritional status; levels are reduced in undernutrition and restored with a proper diet.

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For diagnosis and monitoring of diabetes and insulin-secreting tumors.

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This test is useful in the differential diagnosis of pituitary and gonadal insufficiency and in children with precocious puberty.

A lipid panel includes:Total cholesterol —this test measures all of the cholesterol in all the lipoprotein particles.High-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) — measures the cholesterol in HDL particles; often called "good cholesterol" because it removes excess cholesterol and carries it to the liver for removal.Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) — calculates the cholesterol in LDL particles; often called "bad cholesterol" because it deposits excess cholesterol in walls of blood vessels, which can contribute to atherosclerosis. Usually, the amount of LDL cholesterol (LDL-C) is calculated using the results of total cholesterol, HDL-C, and triglycerides.Triglycerides — measures all the triglycerides in all the lipoprotein particles; most is in the very low-density lipoproteins (VLDL).Very low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (VLDL-C) — calculated from triglycerides/5; this formula is based on the typical composition of VLDL particles.Non-HDL-C — calculated from total cholesterol minus HDL-C.Cholesterol/HDL ratio — calculated ratio of total cholesterol to HDL-C.



Frequently referred to as PCOS, polycystic ovary syndrome is a hormonal disorder that impacts women. The causes of PCOS aren’t fully understood. Still, experts believe that insulin resistance and hormonal imbalances both contribute to the disorder. Symptoms commonly experienced by women with this condition include irregular periods, resistance to insulin, excessive hair on the body and face, and infertility.

Approximately 5-10% of women of reproductive age suffer from polycystic ovary syndrome. It’s the hormone disorder most likely to impact women and is a common cause of infertility. PCOS can affect women as early as age 11. There aren’t any clear diagnostic criteria for PCOS, and the most common symptoms don’t always seem like they’re related to the disorder. Many women don’t receive an official diagnosis until they’re past their 20s or even in their 30s. The condition seems to be hereditary. If a woman has a sister or sisters with PCOS, she is two times as likely to be diagnosed with the same condition.

Even though experts have not determined the diagnostic criteria for polycystic ovary syndrome, women diagnosed with the condition typically demonstrate two of the following symptoms:

  • Failure to ovulate
  • High production of male hormones

The word polycystic translates to “many cysts.” When a woman has PCOS, her ovary does not release eggs. Fluid builds around the eggs, which causes sacs or cysts to form. Even though this symptom helped name the disorder, there are women diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome that do not have polycystic ovaries.

Hormonal Imbalances

Even though androgens are often referred to as male hormones, it’s typical for a woman’s adrenal glands and ovaries to produce these in small quantities. Unfortunately, creating an excess of these hormones, like testosterone, a woman may experience a wide range of frustrating symptoms, including weight gain, excessive body and facial hair, and acne.

When a woman’s hormones are imbalanced, her menstrual cycle may also be disrupted. This disruption can lower the number of eggs that are released or keep a woman from ovulating at all. Women that do not ovulate are unable to become pregnant.

When women have PCOS, it’s typically for ovaries to be enlarged. Ovaries can be triple their typical size. When eggs aren’t released during ovulation, those eggs can stay in the ovary as small sacs that are filled with fluid. This can cause many cysts to develop. When they are viewed through an ultrasound, they look like beads on a string. In most cases, when a woman suffering from PCOS undergoes an ultrasound, cysts can be seen.

Failing to menstruate or ovulate can also cause the body to produce less progesterone. This can cause a condition called endometrial hyperplasia, in which the uterus lining is overgrown. It can increase the risk of endometrial cancer. When women suffering from polycystic ovary syndrome do conceive, they’re far more likely to miscarry or experience other complications, such as gestational diabetes.

A Resistance To Insulin

Many experts believe that resistance to insulin is one of the factors that causes PCOS. Bodies rely on glucose to produce energy. It’s transported via insulin. If someone is insulin resistant, their body will try to address this by producing more insulin. Many experts think that an excess of insulin can lead to increased androgen production, which causes many of the symptoms of PCOS.

Most women with PCOS are insulin resistant. Unusual blood lipid levels and weight gain are also common symptoms. It’s most likely to see insulin resistance in women that are not ovulating and are obese. Because of this, women with PCOS are at increased risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension, as well as several other health conditions.

Common Symptoms

There are many symptoms experienced by women suffering from polycystic ovary syndrome. These symptoms can change over time and may become pronounced. In many cases, it can be challenging to see a link between these symptoms, which is one of the reasons the condition can be challenging to diagnose. Many women do not seek treatment for these issues until they are trying to conceive, which is why the condition is more likely to be diagnosed in women that are of childbearing age.

  • Some of the more common symptoms associated with PCOS include:
  • Unusual uterine bleeding, failure to menstruate, or erratic menstrual periods
  • Enlarged or polycystic ovaries
  • Pain in the pelvis
  • Excessive growth of hair in the body and face
  • Obesity or significant weight gain, particularly when the fat is distributed in the body’s center.
  • Skin tags, acne, or discoloration of the skin
  • Deepened voice
  • Thinning hair or baldness
  • Complications that can be caused by PCOS include:
  • Resistance to insulin
  • Infertility
  • Hypertension
  • Heart disease
  • Sleep apnea
  • If a woman with PCOS becomes pregnant, she may experience complications such as pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, or miscarriage.
  • Endometrial cancer

Testing

Testing for PCOS can be challenging, mainly because there is no formal consensus on the diagnostic criteria. In most cases, medication professionals will look at symptoms, clinical findings, laboratory tests, and medical history when making a diagnosis.

Other tests will likely be ordered to rule out other potential causes of these symptoms. As an example, a tumor in the ovaries can increase the production of androgens, as can a condition called adrenal hyperplasia.

Lab Tests

Several hormonal tests can be used when a woman is being evaluated for PCOS.

Luteinizing hormone (LH): Women with PCOS will have elevated levels

Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH): Low to normal levels

Testosterone: Typically, elevated

Estrogens: Normal to elevated

Sex hormone-binding globulin (SBGH): Levels may be reduced

Androstenedione: Levels may be elevated

Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG): Pregnancy test. The results will be negative unless the patient is pregnant.

Anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH): Increased levels are common in women with PCOS.

Additional tests may be ordered to rule out other possible causes of these symptoms, including:

Cortisol: Test for Cushing syndrome

Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH): Test for thyroid dysfunction

17-hydroxyprogesterone: Test for congenital adrenal hyperplasia

Prolactin: Test for hyperprolactinemia

IGF-1: Test for excess growth hormone, or acromegaly

DHEAS: Testing for adrenal tumors. This test is more likely to be ordered if a woman is showing extreme hair growth.

It’s also possible that blood tests will be ordered so that a woman’s health can be accurately assessed before treatment, including:

Lipid profile: This test can determine the risk of heart disease. High cholesterol levels and elevated triglycerides are both warning signs. Women with PCOS are at increased risk for heart disease, which is why early testing is important

Glucose or A1c: This test can test for diabetes. Someone with diabetes will show elevated glucose levels.

Insulin: Insulin levels are often abnormal in women with PCOS

 

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
  • Acne
  • Oily skin
  • Infertility
  • 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
  • Depression
  • Anxiety

Diagnosing PCOS

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.