In my last blog, I explained the condition of PCOS and it’s causes. As September marks PCOS awareness month, I have written a short series of blogs and this week I am looking at diganosis and treatment options available to you.
How do I get tested for PCOS?
Early diagnosis of PCOS is very important to avoid long term complications, such as:
- increased risk for developing insulin resistance
- type 2 diabetes
- high cholesterol
- high blood pressure
- heart disease
- endometrial cancer
Basic fertility testing including a blood test and ultrasound are mandatory. The blood test will evaluate fertility hormones, androgens as well as blood sugar levels and diabetes markers. The ultrasound determines if the ovaries are enlarged and contain immature resting follicles.
In addition to basic testing, your doctor will determine if there are any physical signs of excess androgens present such as acne, as well as the quality of ovulation through the length and regularity of your menstrual cycles.
Nevertheless, since PCOS cannot be diagnosed with one test alone and symptoms varies in each individual. PCOS has been known as the ‘Silent Killer’, and this can result in misdiagnosis and 30 percent of women will never be diagnosed with it.
Is there a treatment for PCOS?
For overweight women with PCOS, weight loss is often the first step to increasing your chances of pregnancy. The benefits of weight reduction include improved ovulatory function, improved chances of conception, a safer pregnancy for both the mother and baby, and—if needed—better response to fertility medications. Studies have shown that by losing just 5 percent of body weight, a woman can actually restore her menstrual cycle and ovulate on her own. Weight loss has also shown to reduce other symptoms such as hair growth and acne.
Patients with PCOS not wanting to conceive should be treated to control immediate symptoms and to avoid long term complications. In many cases, a birth control pill is prescribed in order to decrease hormone levels, normalize the menstrual cycle and minimize acne appearances.
Due to the fact that insulin-resistance is common in women who have been diagnosed with PCOS, medications such as metformin are typically prescribed as well affecting how insulin controls glucose and reducing testosterone.
Metformin improves the menstrual cycle, slows hair growth, reduces body mass, reduces cholesterol levels and improves ovulation induction response.
Surgery called ovarian drilling is one option for PCOS, although it is only recommended as a last resort and in most of the cases the effects are only temporary.
In my next and final blog about PCOS, I will look specifically at successful fertility treatments to help women suffering with PCOS conceive. Show your support and raise awareness about PCOS by sharing this blog on your social media.