Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) - Topic Overview
To diagnose PCOS, the
- Ask questions about your past health,
- Do a physical exam to
look for signs of PCOS, such as extra body hair and
high blood pressure. The doctor will also check your
height and weight to see if you have a healthy
body mass index (BMI).
- Do a number of
lab tests to check your blood sugar, insulin, and other hormone levels. Hormone
tests can help rule out thyroid or other gland problems that could cause
You may also have a pelvic
ultrasound to look for cysts on your ovaries. Your
doctor may be able to tell you that you have PCOS without an ultrasound, but
this test will help him or her rule out other problems.
Regular exercise, healthy
foods, and weight control are the key treatments for PCOS. Treatment can reduce unpleasant symptoms
and help prevent long-term health problems.
- Try to fit in
moderate activity and/or
vigorous activity often. Walking is a
great exercise that most people can do.
- Eat heart-healthy foods.
This includes lots of vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans, and whole
grains. It limits foods that are high in saturated fat, such as meats,
cheeses, and fried foods.
- Most women who have PCOS can benefit from losing weight. Even
losing 10 lb (4.5 kg) may help
get your hormones in balance and regulate your menstrual cycle.
- If you smoke, consider quitting. Women who smoke
have higher androgen levels that may contribute to PCOS symptoms.1
Your doctor also may prescribe birth control pills to reduce symptoms, metformin to help you have regular menstrual cycles, or fertility medicines if you are having trouble getting pregnant.
It is important to see your doctor for follow-up to make
sure that treatment is working and to adjust it if needed. You may also need regular
tests to check for diabetes, high blood pressure, and other possible
It may take a while for treatments to help with symptoms
such as facial hair or acne. You can use over-the-counter or prescription medicines for acne.
It can be hard to deal with having PCOS. If you are
feeling sad or depressed, it may help to talk to a counselor or to other women
who have PCOS.