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Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

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There is no specific test that can be used to diagnose polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and there is no widespread agreement on what the diagnostic criteria should be. A health practitioner will typically evaluate a combination of clinical findings such as a woman's signs and symptoms, medical and family history, and physical exam as well as laboratory test results to help make a diagnosis.

Some testing may done to rule out other possible causes of PCOS-like symptoms before a PCOS diagnosis can be made. For example, adrenal or ovarian tumors or an overgrowth in adrenal tissue called adrenal hyperplasia can also cause an overproduction of male hormones in women.

Laboratory Tests

Several hormone tests may be used to evaluate a woman for PCOS:

A few tests may help rule out other conditions with similar signs and symptoms:

Other blood tests may be done to check a woman's health and detect any complications that might develop:

Non-Laboratory Tests
A pelvic ultrasound (transvaginal and/or pelvic/abdominal) is used to evaluate enlarged ovaries. Ultrasounds are often used to look for cysts in the ovaries and to see if the internal structures appear normal. In PCOS, the ovaries may be 1.5 to 3 times larger than normal and characteristically have more than 12 or more follicles per ovary measuring 2 to 9 mm in diameter. Often the cysts are lined up on the surface the ovaries, forming the appearance of a "pearl necklace." The follicles tend to be small and immature, thus never reaching full development. The ultrasound helps visualize these changes in more than 90% of women with PCOS, but they are also found in up to 25% of women without PCOS symptoms. (For more, see Pelvic ultrasound.)

Laparoscopy may be used to evaluate ovaries and sometimes used as part of surgical treatment. (For more, see MedlinePlus: Pelvic laparoscopy.)

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