By CHIOMA UMEHA
There’s no test to definitively diagnose PCOS. Your doctor is likely to start with a discussion of your medical history, including your menstrual periods and weight changes. A physical exam will include checking for signs of excess hair growth, insulin resistance and acne.
Your doctor might then recommend:
•A pelvic exam. The doctor visually and manually inspects your reproductive organs for masses, growths or other abnormalities.
• Blood tests. Your blood may be analyzed to measure hormone levels. This testing can exclude possible causes of menstrual abnormalities or androgen excess that mimics PCOS. You might have additional blood testing to measure glucose tolerance and fasting cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
• An ultrasound. Your doctor checks the appearance of your ovaries and the thickness of the lining of your uterus. A wandlike device (transducer) is placed in your vagina (transvaginal ultrasound). The transducer emits sound waves that are translated into images on a computer screen.
If you have a diagnosis of PCOS, your doctor might recommend additional tests for complications. Those tests can include:
• Periodic checks of blood pressure, glucose tolerance, and cholesterol and triglyceride levels
• Screening for depression and anxiety
• Screening for obstructive sleep apnea
How is it treated?
Lifestyle changes: Your doctor may recommend weight loss through a low-calorie diet combined with moderate exercise activities. Even a modest reduction in your weight – for example, losing five per cent of your body weight – might improve your condition. Losing weight may also increase the effectiveness of medications your doctor recommends for PCOS, and can help with infertility.
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 to help you have regular menstrual cycles, or fertility medicines if you are having trouble getting pregnant.