Polycystic ovary syndrome signs and symptoms often begin soon after a woman first begins having periods (menarche). In some cases, PCOD develops later on during the reproductive years, for instance, in response to substantial weight gain. Signs and symptoms vary from person to person, in both type and severity.
Menstrual abnormality. This is the most common characteristic. Examples of menstrual abnormality include menstrual intervals longer than 35 days; fewer than eight menstrual cycles a year; failure to menstruate for four months or longer; and prolonged periods that may be either scant or accompanied with heavy bleeding.
Excess androgen. Elevated levels of male hormones (androgens) may result in physical signs, such as excess facial and body hair (hirsutism), adult acne or severe adolescent acne, and male-pattern baldness (androgenic alopecia). However, the physical signs of androgen excess vary with ethnicity, so depending on your ethnic background you may or may not show signs of excess androgen.
Polycystic ovaries. Enlarged ovaries containing numerous small cysts can be detected by ultrasound at our EHL Diagnostic Centre. Despite the condition's name, polycystic ovaries alone do not confirm the diagnosis. To be diagnosed with PCOS, you must also have abnormal menstrual cycles or signs of androgen excess. Some women with polycystic ovaries may not have PCOS, while a few women with the condition have ovaries that appear normal.
Medical history: Your doctor may ask questions about your menstrual periods, weight changes and other symptoms.
Physical examination: During your physical exam, your doctor will note several key pieces of information, including your height, weight and blood pressure.
Pelvic examination: During a pelvic exam, your doctor visually and manually inspects your reproductive organs for signs of masses, growths or other abnormalities.
Blood tests: Your blood may be drawn to measure the levels of several hormones to exclude possible causes of menstrual abnormalities or androgen excess that mimic PCOS. Additional blood testing may include fasting cholesterol and triglyceride levels and a glucose tolerance test, in which glucose levels are measured while fasting and after drinking a glucose-containing beverage.
Pelvic ultrasound: A pelvic ultrasound can show the appearance of your ovaries and the thickness of the lining of your uterus. During the test, you lie on a bed or examining table while a wand-like device (transducer) is placed in your vagina (transvaginal ultrasound). The transducer emits inaudible sound waves that are translated into images on a computer screen.
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