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PCOS: Diagnosis & Treatment
To diagnose PCOS, the doctor will ask about your medical history and perform a physical examination to check for weight gain, acne, extra body hair, darkened skin, or high blood pressure. During a pelvic exam, the doctor will feel for cysts on the ovaries.
You’ll also have a number of blood tests to measure androgens, insulin, and other hormone levels. You may also have a vaginal ultrasound.
Although there is no cure for PCOS, there are several ways to manage the symptoms.
If you’re overweight, your doctor may suggest some lifestyle changes to reduce your risk of developing several health conditions associated with PCOS. Losing weight through a heart-healthy diet and regular exercise can sometimes bring your hormone levels back to normal and cause many of the symptoms to disappear or become less severe. Weight loss can reduce your risk of heart disease by lowering high blood pressure and cholesterol levels. It can reduce your risk of diabetes by reducing blood sugar levels and regulating insulin levels. It can also stimulate ovulation and improve fertility rates.
Several types of medications are used to restore hormone balance. Birth control pills may reduce androgen levels, regulate your menstrual cycle, and clear up acne and excess facial hair. Medicines which lower androgens (antiandrogens) may also be used to further reduce symptoms such as hair loss and skin problems. Antiandrogens and birth control pills should not be used if you plan to become pregnant.
If you’re insulin resistant, you may be given Metformin, a diabetes medication used to control blood sugar and insulin levels. Metformin can also help reduce androgen levels and make ovulation normal. If your menstrual cycle becomes more regular, your fertility may also be restored. If you’re trying to get pregnant, you may also be prescribed fertility medicines.