Advertisement

How do blood tests help diagnose polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)?

While there is no single test for polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a healthcare provider may measure blood levels of the following:

  • Thyroid hormone (symptoms of low thyroid function, or hypothyroidism, include irregular menstruation, similar to that of PCOS).
  • Prolactin (high levels of this hormone, which stimulates milk production, often results in irregular or absent menses similar to that seen in PCOS).
  • 17-hydroxyprogesterone, a marker for the most common cause of adrenal hyperplasia (due to 21-hydroxylase deficiency). If the screening level is high, a healthcare provider may choose to perform an adrenal stimulation test.
  • Androgen levels, including total and free testosterone and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS). Androgen-producing tumors, although they are rare, can result in some of the masculinizing symptoms of PCOS. If your testosterone level is persistently very high, a healthcare provider may want to investigate further.
  • Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) levels. FSH promotes the development of egg-containing follicles in the ovaries, while LH stimulates ovulation as well as follicle rupture and encourages the empty follicle to convert to progesterone production. A high ratio of LH to FSH (greater than 2:1 or 3:1) may be characteristic of PCOS, although women with PCOS can also have normal FSH and LH levels and a normal ratio, so FSH and LH testing is not always useful in diagnosing PCOS.
  • A two-hour glucose tolerance test. This test, where your blood is drawn before you drink a sugary solution and again one and two hours afterward, should be performed in all women diagnosed with PCOS, because diabetes or prediabetes is hard to detect in many women with PCOS without this test.
  • Healthcare providers may also order tests to measure blood fat (lipid) and cholesterol levels.

This content originally appeared on HealthyWomen.org.

Continue Learning about Women's Health

7 Reasons You Miss Your Period (Without Being Pregnant)
7 Reasons You Miss Your Period (Without Being Pregnant)7 Reasons You Miss Your Period (Without Being Pregnant)7 Reasons You Miss Your Period (Without Being Pregnant)7 Reasons You Miss Your Period (Without Being Pregnant)
Skipping a menstrual cycle doesn’t always mean you’re expecting.  Most women have between 11 and 13 menstrual cycles per year, but many women have few...
Start Slideshow
6 Surprising Facts About Your Vagina
6 Surprising Facts About Your Vagina6 Surprising Facts About Your Vagina6 Surprising Facts About Your Vagina6 Surprising Facts About Your Vagina
Your vagina has incredible healing powers. Your vagina is a pretty incredible organ. It’ll let you know when you’re ovulating, grows during arousal a...
Start Slideshow
What Is Postpartum Depression (PPD)?
What Is Postpartum Depression (PPD)?
Can You Diagnose Endometriosis Without a Laparoscopy?
Can You Diagnose Endometriosis Without a Laparoscopy?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.