Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) - Diagnosis & Treatment

How is PCOS diagnosed?

PCOS can be exceptionally tricky to diagnose, especially in adolescents and menopausal women who experience normal hormonal changes. Some of the symptoms of PCOS can also be seen in other conditions.

Your doctor will discuss your medical history, menstrual period, weight changes and symptoms. To confirm a diagnosis, your doctor may order:

Your doctor may diagnose you with PCOS if you have at least 3 of the following criteria:

  • Irregular menstrual periods (typically less than 6 periods per year)
  • High levels of androgen in your blood test results
  • Symptoms associated with high levels of androgen, such as acne, excessive hair growth on your face or body, and male-pattern balding.
  • Ultrasound results that show cysts on one or both ovaries

With the proper diagnosis, treatment and lifestyle changes, PCOS can be managed. Speak to an endocrinologist to understand more.

How is PCOS treated?

Depending on your age, symptoms and future reproductive plans, your doctor may recommend one or more of the following:

  • Hormone treatment, in addition to exercise and weight loss, to achieve a normal menstrual cycle.
  • Weight loss, a healthy diet, and exercise to promote a normal menstrual cycle. This can help to increase the chance of fertility.
  • Medication to induce ovulation and treat infertility.
  • Oral contraceptive pills to regulate menstruation, lower male hormone levels, and reduce facial hair, spots and thinning hair.
  • Laparoscopic keyhole surgery on the polycystic ovaries may be needed if medication fails.
  • In vitro fertilisation (IVF) if surgery does not successfully treat infertility.

Diet and lifestyle recommendations

Since PCOS may increase your risk of certain diseases, it is important to consider changing your diet and lifestyle. In particular, you may need to focus on weight management, insulin production and insulin resistance as hormonal imbalances and metabolic problems are some of the primary outcomes of PCOS.

Following a diet that meets your nutritional needs — a healthy weight and normal insulin levels — can help you feel better. Consider including the following food sources in your diet:

  • High-fibre foods, such as spinach, green leafy vegetables, berries, pumpkins and sweet potatoes
  • Foods that can help reduce inflammation, such as spinach, tomatoes, and olive oil
  • Foods that can lower high blood pressure, such as fish, poultry, whole grains and low-fat dairy products

Limit or avoid eating refined carbohydrates like white bread, sugary beverages, desserts, and processed foods. These may worsen insulin resistance and cause inflammation.

Be conscious of your daily physical movements to manage your insulin resistance and high blood pressure. Activities like meditation and yoga help you manage your stress levels.

Always consult a doctor or nutritionist to learn more about your medical condition and treatment options before making any significant changes to your diet and lifestyle.

This page has been reviewed by our medical content reviewers.

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