For many women, living with PCOS is something they do for many years before even getting diagnosed. Many women spend years and years feeling confused and self-conscious of their symptoms, but never knowing what is causing them or why certain things might be happening to their body.
Many symptoms that women with PCOS experience are:
- Irregular periods
- No periods at all
- Unexplained weight gain
- Oily skin / Acne
- Difficulty conceiving (this is often because of irregular ovulation)
- Excessive hair growth (for many women this is usually on the face, chest, back or buttocks)
- Thinning hair and hair loss
For most women, it starts with noticing certain symptoms, and then opening a discussion with their doctors. Your doctor will be attuned to connecting symptoms, and that’s why discussing your health with your doctor is so crucial.
When you talk about these symptoms with your doctor, it’s likely they’ll ask about your medical history, which will include questions about your periods, how regular they are, and any recent or unexplained weight changes. If your doctor thinks other examinations would be beneficial, then physical examinations looking for signs of excess hair growth, insulin resistance and acne might be suggested to you.
These might in include:
- A pelvic exam. During this exam, your doctor will visually and manually inspect your reproductive organs. They will be looking for growths, masses, or any other abnormalities that might give the doctor a red flag.
- Blood tests. If your doctor suspects a hormone imbalance, you may be asked to take a blood test. Your hormone levels can be read from a blood test, and this testing can exclude possible causes of menstrual abnormalities or androgen excess that mimics PCOS.
- An ultrasound. During an ultrasound the appearance of your ovaries and the thickness of your uterus lining will be tested. A small device called a transducer will be placed in your vagina which emits sound waves, and then translates these to images that your doctor can examine.