Diagnosing PCOS in women who menstruate regularly (2023)

When should a patient who menstruates normally be diagnosed as having polycystic ovary syndrome, and what clinical differences exist between these somewhat atypical women and those with classic PCOS?

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Choose article section... PCOS in anovulatory women with normal menses Is anovulation needed for the diagnosis of PCOS? What does ovulatory PCOS look like? Polycystic ovaries in normoandrogenic ovulatory women Reevaluating the pathogenesis of PCOS PCOS and normal menses: another point of view Key points

By Enrico Carmina, MD

When should a patient who menstruates normally be diagnosed as having polycystic ovary syndrome, and what clinical differences exist between these somewhat atypical women and those with classic PCOS?

Normal menstruation is common in women who have hyperandrogenism, hirsutism, or both. In fact, in several studies that looked at different populations, 50% to 70% of hirsute women had normal menses.1-4 In our experience, for instance, 50.8% of 588 hirsute women had normal menstrual cycles.4

In the past, these menstruating women would have been diagnosed with idiopathic hirsutism, but there's now general agreement that this label should be reserved for hirsute women with normal menses and normal circulating androgen levels.5 When carefully evaluated, however, as many as 90% of hirsute women with normal menses have elevated androgen levels and therefore cannot be included in the group of women with idiopathic hirsutism.3,4

Some of these women may actually have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Of course, the main problem is that experts don't completely agree on the clinical or biological characteristics needed to diagnose PCOS. In the past, most clinicians diagnosed PCOS on the basis of hyperandrogenism and chronic anovulation, provided that some uncommon, but clearly defined forms of hyperandrogenism (tumors, Cushing's syndrome, and adrenal enzymatic deficiencies) had been excluded.6,7 If we use this definition, the syndrome should only be diagnosed in hyperandrogenic women—with or without hirsutism—who have normal menses but are anovulatory. It is not uncommon—and several studies have reported—that anovulation may be present in women with normal menses.3,4 And more recently, we and others have provided evidence that the diagnosis of PCOS can be reached in hyperandrogenic ovulatory women.8-10

It's likely then that normal menses in PCOS is more common than we once believed. In this review, we'll discuss when to diagnose PCOS in women with normal menses and what differences there are between these patients and those with classic PCOS, who have irregular menses.

PCOS in anovulatory women with normal menses

In our experience, 15% to 21% of hyperandrogenic women with normal menses are anovulatory and have to be considered as affected by PCOS.4,8 In 1963, after reviewing 1,079 patients, Goldzieher and colleagues reported that 12% of women with PCOS menstruate normally.11 Similar data from other large studies are reported in Table 1.

Prevalence of normal menses in three large studies of women with PCOS

Goldzieher and Axelrod

Lobo and Carmina

Balen et al.

Prevalence of normal menses




PCOS diagnosis by:


Hyperandrogenism and chronic anovulation

Polycystic ovaries on ovarian sonography

The diagnosis of PCOS in these women with normal menses is easy. It is sufficient to show the presence of anovulation (by low-serum progesterone) and hyperandrogenism (increased serum levels of testosterone or DHEAS). Of course, a single anovulatory cycle isn't enough to make the diagnosis; chronic anovulation should be ascertained. In clinical practice, we measure serum progesterone during day 22 to 23 of the cycle in all hyperandrogenic women with normal menses. If progesterone levels are below 3 ng/mL, one more cycle is studied and the diagnosis of PCOS is made if this cycle is also anovulatory. Most of these patients present polycystic ovaries at ultrasound as well, but pelvic sonography is not required for the diagnosis. Serum levels of 17-hydroxyprogesterone (17-OHP), measured during the follicular phase, should also be evaluated to exclude nonclassic 21-OH deficiency.

(Video) 5 Things Your Gynecologist Wants You To Know: PCOS Misconceptions

It is not clear why some women with PCOS also have normal menses, in spite of being anovulatory. In our study, hyperandrogenic anovulatory women with normal menses, compared to classic PCOS with irregular menses, had similar polycystic ovarian morphology and similarly increased response to a GnRH agonist acute test. Serum androgen levels were elevated and no different from those found in patients with irregular menses.8 Interestingly, patients with anovulatory PCOS and normal menses seemed to be leaner and have lower insulin and gonadotropin levels than those with classic PCOS. Therefore, differences in gonadotropin and/or insulin secretion could be responsible for the varying length of the ovarian cycle in anovulatory women. However, a large study comparing anovulatory patients with normal and irregular menses is yet to be done, and, in our experience, there is a large overlap between gonadotropin and insulin levels in individual PCOS women with normal and irregular menses.

Treatment of infertility and hirsutism in these women is no different from that of women with classic PCOS, and of course, clinicians should take steps to reduce cardiovascular risks in all patients with insulin resistance and altered serum lipids.

Is anovulation needed for the diagnosis of PCOS?

As we mentioned previously, for many years most authors have been convinced that chronic anovulation is needed for the diagnosis of PCOS. However, many ovulatory hyperandrogenic women present with typical PCOS features.8,10 In fact, 45% to 50% of ovulatory hyperandrogenic women have polycystic ovaries on ultrasound, increased ovarian 17-OHP, and androstenedione response to a GnRH-agonist, suggesting ovarian hyperandrogenism. Moreover, in our studies we found that the same patients had mild insulin resistance and altered lipid profiles, similar to patients with classic (anovulatory) PCOS.7,10 So evidently some ovulatory hyperandrogenic women have the same clinical and endocrine characteristics as women with classic (anovulatory) PCOS and there is no reason to make the diagnosis of PCOS only in patients with chronic anovulation.

If we believe that the main characteristics of PCOS are hyperandrogenism and insulin resistance, both elements are not necessarily linked to anovulation. In fact, hyperandrogenism is often associated with normal ovulatory cycles. In our study, 40% of hirsute women had hyperandrogenism but were still ovulating.4 Similar data have been presented by other investigators.1 Others have reported that ovulatory hyperandrogenic women have similar androgen levels as anovulatory hyperandrogenic patients.14 While the prevalence of ovulation in different hyperandrogenic populations varies, it is clear that hyperandrogenism per se does not automatically cause anovulation.

Also keep in mind that hyperinsulinemia is not necessarily associated with anovulation. For example, while insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia are well-known components of obesity, most obese women have normal ovulatory cycles and normal fertility.15,16 Moreover, insulin resistance is also a common finding in lean apparently normal women and in insulin resistance syndrome or syndrome X.17,18

It's possible that hyperinsulinemia induces anovulation only when hyperandrogenism is present. This hypothesis is supported by the finding that obese women who have altered menstrual patterns also have higher androgen levels than eumenorrheic obese women.19 However, our data have shown that in this situation, anovulation is not a necessary consequence. In fact, our hyperandrogenic ovulatory patients with polycystic ovaries had insulin resistance as well.10 This suggests that the association between insulin resistance and hyperandrogenism does not necessarily precipitate anovulation.

What does ovulatory PCOS look like?

Patients with ovulatory PCOS present clinicians with a few unique problems:

How does one make the diagnosis? You should base the diagnosis on the finding of ovulatory cycles in hyperandrogenic women who have polycystic ovaries. Therefore, in ovulatory hyperandrogenic women, it is particularly important to evaluate ovarian morphology with pelvic sonography. The existence of polycystic ovaries is sufficient for the diagnosis of PCOS in these women because we have previously shown that in ovulatory hyperandrogenic women, there is a correlation between ovarian response to a GnRH agonist test and ovarian morphology by pelvic sonography.10 The sonographic diagnosis should be based on the classic criteria of Adams and associates.20 Figure 1 provides a scheme for diagnosing PCOS in hyperandrogenic women with normal menses.

Diagnosing PCOS in women who menstruate regularly (1)

Diagnosing PCOS in women who menstruate regularly (2)

What other tests should clinicians perform to arrive at the diagnosis of ovulatory PCOS? An evaluation of insulin sensitivity by a simple mathematical method based on insulin and glucose basal levels such as HOMA-IR or QUICKI should be performed.21,22 Moreover, cardiovascular risk should be assessed. Therefore glucose tolerance (by oral glucose tolerance test) and serum lipids (total cholesterol, HDL and LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides) should be measured.

If any of these values are altered, the patient should be carefully treated with nutritional therapy and, if needed, with insulin sensitizing agents. Consider metformin if diet fails to resolve insulin resistance or to improve lipids. If all values are normal, on the other hand, the patient should not be treated but insulin sensitivity, glucose tolerance, and serum lipids should be measured every 2 years.7

Is fertility normal in patients with ovulatory PCOS? We can't offer a definitive answer to that question at the moment. We have regarded these patients as fertile but recent studies have shown that women with ovulatory PCOS have some alterations in their early luteal phase.9 It's unclear if this might impair fertility.

Polycystic ovaries in normoandrogenic ovulatory women

We have known for several years that many apparently normal, fertile women have polycystic ovaries.23-25 Up to 20% of normal women from different countries have polycystic ovaries on ultrasound. We don't know what causes the altered ovarian morphology in many of these apparently normal women, but their fertility is normal. In fact, studying women who were ovum donors and had proven fertility, we found that some of these women have polycystic ovaries.26 Most of these women have normal serum androgens as well, although we have shown that they may have a slightly increased ovarian response to a GnRH agonist acute test.27,28 These apparently normal women also have some signs of very mild insulin resistance.27,28

This is probably a third group of women who have a very mild defect of insulin sensitivity. Because of their normal fertility and the absence of basal hyperandrogenism, however, we don't believe these women should be labeled as having PCOS.

Reevaluating the pathogenesis of PCOS

The most diffuse theory on the pathogenesis of PCOS is based on the presence of two different defects—hyperandrogenism and insulin resistance—both of which are probably inherited.7,29,30 While both are needed for the syndrome to come about, differing severities of these two defects may be present in individual patients.

These underlying defects are probably responsible for a wide spectrum of conditions that are all part of what we call PCOS, but each of which may have very different clinical and endocrine presentations. In this spectrum, ovulatory PCOS represents the milder form of PCOS but is still able to induce sub-fertility, hirsutism, and increased cardiovascular risk. The differences between these milder forms of PCOS and the classical disorder are summed up in Table 2.

Differences between classic and mild forms of PCOS



Increased androgens

Insulin resistance

Polycystic ovaries

Increased cardiovascular risk

Classic PCOS







(Video) PCOS Affects More Than Just Your Period: Two Women Share Their Stories | The Quint

Anovulatory PCOS with normal menses







Ovulatory PCOS







Normoandrogenic ovulatory women with polycystic ovaries




(Video) Can women with PCOS,regular cycles & taking metformin become pregnant? - Dr. Shailaja N





1.Mehta A, Matwijiw I, Taylor PJ, et al. Should androgen levels be measured in hirsute women with normal menstrual cycles? Int J Fertil. 1992;37:354-357.

2.Jahanfar S, Eden JA. Idiopathic hirsutism or polycystic ovary syndrome? Austr N Z J Obstet Gynaecol. 1993;33:414-416.

3.Azziz R, Waggoner WT, Ochoa T, et al. Idiopathic hirsutism: an uncommon cause of hirsutism in Alabama. Fertil Steril. 1998;70:274-278.

4.Carmina E. Prevalence of idiopathic hirsutism. Eur J Endocrinol. 1998;139:421-423.

5.Azziz R, Carmina E, Sawaya ME. Idiopathic hirsutism. Endocr Rev. 2000;21:347-362.

6.Zawadzki JK, Dunaif A. Diagnostic criteria for polycystic ovary syndrome: towards a rational approach. In: Dunaif A, Givens JR, Haseltine FP, et al., eds. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Boston, Mass: Blackwell Scientific Publications; 1992:377-384.

7.Lobo RA, Carmina E. The importance of diagnosing the polycystic ovary syndrome. Ann Intern Med. 2000; 132:989-993.

8.Carmina E, Lobo RA. Do hyperandrogenic women with normal menses have polycystic ovary syndrome? Fertil Steril. 1999;71:319-322.

9.Joseph-Horne R, Mason H, Batty S, et al. Luteal phase progesterone excretion in ovulatory women with polycystic ovaries. Hum Reprod. 2002;17:1459-1463.

10.Carmina E, Lobo RA. Polycystic ovaries in hirsute women with normal menses. Am J Med. 2001;111:602-606.

11.Goldzieher JW, Axelrod LR. Clinical and biochemical features of polycystic ovarian disease. Fertil Steril. 1963;14:631-653.

12.Lobo RA, Carmina E. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. In: Lobo RA, Mishell DR Jr, Paulson RJ, et al., eds. Mishell's Textbook of Infertility, Contraception, and Reproductive Endocrinology. Boston, Mass: Blackwell Scientific Publications; 1997;363-383.

13.Balen AH, Conway GS, Kaltsas G, et al. Polycystic ovary syndrome: the spectrum of the disorder in 1741 patients. Hum Reprod. 1995;10:2107-2111.

14.Franks S. Polycystic ovary syndrome: a changing perspective. Clin Endocrinol. 1989;31:87-120.

15.Caro JF. Clinical review 26: insulin resistance in obese and nonobese man. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1991;73:691-695.

16.Glass AR. Endocrine aspects of obesity. Med Clin North Am. 1989;73:139-160.

17.Reaven GM. Role of insulin resistance in human disease. Diabetes. 1988;37:1595-1607.

18.Ruderman NB. The "metabolically-obese" normal-weight individual. Am J Clin Nutr. 1981;34:1617-1621.

19.Zhang YW, Stern B, Rebar RW. Endocrine comparison of obese menstruating and amenorrheic women. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1984;58:1077-1083.

20.Adams J, Polson DW, Franks S. Prevalence of polycystic ovaries in women with anovulation and idiopathic hirsutism. Br Med J (Clin Res Ed). 1986;293:355-359.

21.Haffner SM, Miettinen H, Stern MP. The homeostasis model in the San Antonio Heart Study. Diabetes Care. 1996;19:1138-1141.

22.Katz A, Nambi SS, Mather K, et al. Quantitative insulin sensitivity check index: a simple, accurate method for assessing insulin sensitivity in humans. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2000;85:2402-2410.

23.Polson DW, Adams J, Wadswoth J, et al. Polycystic ovaries—a common finding in normal women. Lancet. 1988;1:870-872.

24.Clayton RN, Ogden V, Hodgkinson J, et al. How common are polycystic ovaries in normal women and what is their significance for the fertility of the population? Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 1992;37:127-134.

(Video) How to have regular periods even with PCOS? || Know Your Health With Dr. Manjula Anagani

25.Abdel Gadir A, Khatim MS, Mowafi RS, et al. Implications of ultrasonically diagnosed polycystic ovaries. I. Correlations with basal hormonal profiles. Hum Reprod. 1992;7:453-457.

26.Wong LI, Morris RS, Lobo RA, et al. Isolated polycystic morphology in ovum donors predicts response to ovarian stimulation. Hum Reprod. 1995;10:524-528.

27.Carmina E, Wong L, Chang L, et al. Endocrine abnormalities in ovulatory women with polycystic ovaries on ultrasound. Hum Reprod. 1997;12:905-909.

28.Chang PL, Lindheim SR, Lowre C, et al. Normal ovulatory women with polycystic ovaries have hyperandrogenic pituitary-ovarian responses to gonadotropin-releasing hormone-agonist testing. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2000;85:995-1000.

29.Carmina E, Lobo RA. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): arguably the most common endocrinopathy is associated with significant morbidity in women. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1999;84:1897-1899.

30.Legro RS. Polycystic ovary syndrome: the new millennium. Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2001;184:87-93.

Dr. Carmina is Professor of Endocrinology, Department of Clinical Medicine, University of Palermo, Italy.
Series Editor: Richard Legro, MD, is Associate Professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, Hershey, Pa.

PCOS and normal menses: another point of view

By Ricardo Azziz, MD, MPH, MBA

Dr. Carmina presents a provocative and important argument on the relationship between PCOS and normal menses. While significant strides have been made in elucidating many of the associated features of polycystic ovary syndrome, much remains unclear.

Dr. Carmina alludes to an important fact that "normal menses" doesn't exclude the presence of oligo-ovulation, particularly in the presence of other hyperandrogenic features like hirsutism and hyperandrogenemia. Up to 40% of hirsute women who menstruate regularly are anovulatory when evaluated more closely by luteal phase progesterone levels and basal body temperature charts.1 Hence, it is important for the reader to always distinguish between "normal menses" and "normal ovulatory function". As the author points out, we still don't know why some women continue to have vaginal bleeding at regular intervals despite being anovulatory.

It is likely, however, that the presence of vaginal bleeding relates primarily to differences in endometrial factors, either intrinsic or in response to other extrauterine circulating factors. In the study by Carmina and Lobo, for instance, women who were having regular vaginal bleeding had lower circulating insulin levels than those who did not.2 It is possible that insulin, directly or indirectly, alters endometrial integrity and growth in these women. Further studies are needed in this area, particularly in regards to the clinical implications of regular menstrual bleeding in the face of anovulation in women who otherwise have PCOS.

The question of whether ovulatory dysfunction is required for the diagnosis of PCOS is an important one. The informal proceedings of a 1990 NICHD-sponsored conference on the subject noted that most participants in the conference felt that PCOS should be diagnosed by the presence of: (a) oligo-anovulation, (b) clinical and/or biochemical hyperandrogenism (e.g., hirsutism and/or hyperandrogenemia), after (c) the exclusion of related disorders, such as nonclassic adrenal hyperplasia, Cushing's syndrome, and androgen-secreting neoplasms.3

However, it is also very clear that this disorder is quite heterogeneous. For example, many women will have varying degrees of hirsutism and other dermatologic signs of androgen excess, despite having relatively similar circulating androgen levels. Likewise, many patients may not have "polycystic ovaries" on ultrasonography, nor will they have gross evidence of gonadotropic abnormalities on evaluation.

Finally, while up to 70% of women with PCOS demonstrate some degree of insulin resistance compared to weight-matched controls, up to a third of these patients may not have any evidence of insulin resistance whatsoever.4,5 Thus, it is conceivable that there is also considerable variation in the degree of hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis abnormality. We have observed that approximately 16% of our patients with functional androgen excess have a phenotype similar to that described by Dr. Carmina; that is, the presence of hirsutism, hyperandrogenemia, and normal menstrual and ovulatory function (at least in the cycles evaluated).

A greater problem arises when we begin to consider hyperandrogenic ovulatory women with polycystic ovaries as having PCOS. Carmina and Lobo indicate that on average their hyperandrogenic ovulatory patients with polycystic ovaries (labeled "ovulatory PCOS") had higher circulating insulin levels, lower glucose-to-insulin ratios, and higher body mass compared to hirsute ovulatory women who had normal androgens; that is, 'idiopathic hirsutism', although ovarian morphology by ultrasound was not reported.6 In a previous study these investigators reported that women with "ovulatory PCOS'' generally had lesser degrees of hyperinsulinism than patients with frank PCOS.7 Thus, it is unclear whether patients who have hyperandrogenism (i.e., hirsutism and/or hyperandrogenemia), polycystic ovaries, but regular ovulation and menstruation actually have PCOS. Do they represent an intermediate stable phenotype between idiopathic hirsutism and PCOS, or do they represent an early form of PCOS that will progress over time, or is this an entirely different disorder? These questions remain unanswered and need to be investigated by performing long-term follow-up and genetic or familial studies.

Overall, it's premature to begin to define a new disorder, namely "ovulatory PCOS". While Dr. Carmina goes to great lengths to explain how this disorder may be diagnosed, it's still unclear whether this is actually a disorder of similar concern as frank PCOS. Thus, we should be somewhat cautious before labeling these patients as having PCOS, particularly since the diagnosis has significant medical and reproductive implications.

Nonetheless, it is clear that this is an area that requires continued and aggressive study to elucidate the full spectrum of the disorder, its clinical implications, and potential preventive strategies. Dr. Carmina's presentation provides significant "food for thought" in this regard. We should not forget that PCOS is the single most common endocrine disorder of reproductive-aged women, with significant reproductive and metabolic morbidity.


1. Azziz R, Waggoner WT, Ochoa T, et al. Idiopathic hirsutism: an uncommon cause of hirsutism in Alabama. Fertil Steril. 1998;70:274-278.

2. Carmina E, Lobo RA. Do hyperandrogenic women with normal menses have polycystic ovary syndrome? Fertil. Steril. 1999;71:319-322.

3. Zawdaki JK, Dunaif A. Diagnostic criteria for polycystic ovary syndrome: towards a rationale approach. In: Dunaif A, Givens JR, Haseltine F, et al, eds. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Boston, Mass: Blackwell Scientific Publications; 1992:377-384.

4. Dunaif A, Segal KR, Futterweit W, et al. Profound peripheral insulin resistance, independent of obesity, in polycystic ovary syndrome. Diabetes. 1989;38:1165-1174.

5. Legro RS, Finegood D, Dunaif A. A fasting glucose to insulin ratio is a useful measure of insulin sensitivity in women with polycystic ovary syndrome. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1998;83:2694-2698.

6. Carmina E, Lobo RA. Polycystic ovaries in Hirsute women with normal menses. Am J Med. 2001;111:602-606.

7. Carmina E, Wong L, Chang J, et al. Endocrine abnormalities in ovulatory women with polycystic ovaries on ultrasound. Hum Reprod. 1997;12:905-909.

Dr. Azziz is Chairman, Dept. of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, and Executive Director, Androgen Excess Society, Los Angeles, Calif.

Key points

  • In our experience, 15% to 21% of hyperandrogenic women with normal menses are anovulatory and have to be considered as affected by PCOS.
  • Treatment of infertility and hirsutism in these women is no different from that of women with classic PCOS.
  • Many ovulatory hyperandrogenic women present with typical PCOS features. In fact, 45% to 50% of ovulatory hyperandrogenic women have polycystic ovaries on ultrasound.
  • The most diffuse theory on the pathogenesis of PCOS is based on the presence of two different defects—hyperandrogenism and insulin resistance—both of which are probably inherited. While both are needed for the syndrome to come about, differing severities of these two defects may be present in individual patients.

Enrico Carmina. Diagnosing PCOS in women who menstruate regularly.

Contemporary Ob/Gyn

Jul. 1, 2003;48:53-64.


How is PCOS diagnosed with regular periods? ›

Blood tests.

Blood tests can measure hormone levels. This testing can exclude possible causes of menstrual problems or androgen excess that mimic PCOS . You might have other blood testing, such as fasting cholesterol and triglyceride levels. A glucose tolerance test can measure your body's response to sugar (glucose).

Can you still have PCOS even if your periods are regular? ›

Although some women with PCOS have regular periods, high levels of androgens (also known as 'male-type hormones') and too much insulin in their bodies can disrupt the monthly cycle of ovulation and menstruation of many women with PCOS. If you have PCOS, your periods might be irregular, or stop altogether.

Can you have PCOS with regular periods and no symptoms? ›

It is possible for women to have PCOS but still have regular periods. PCOS symptoms do not always include irregular periods; Many women with with PCOS but regular periods do also experience difficulties with ovulation.

Can I have regular periods and not ovulate PCOS? ›

Even women with PCOS who have regular periods often have menstrual cycles without ovulation. Lack of ovulation is the root cause of many reproductive system problems that women with PCOS often face: menstrual irregularities and infertility. If there is no ovulation, there is no production of progesterone.

What confirms you have PCOS? ›

To receive a diagnosis of PCOS, you must meet two of the following criteria: irregular ovulation, which is usually indicated by an irregular menstrual cycle or a lack of a cycle. signs of increased androgen levels or a blood test confirming you have increased levels. multiple small cysts on the ovaries.

What is PCOS belly? ›

A PCOS belly is the result of PCOS-related weight gain and may be caused by different factors. Weight gain in individuals with PCOS follows a characteristic pattern that involves more abdominal visceral fat gain compared to the rest of the body.

What color is period blood PCOS? ›

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)

PCOS can prevent ovulation. When this happens, your uterine lining builds up but doesn't shed properly, leading to light or missed periods with brown blood or discharge in between.

What is the difference between PCOS and Pcod? ›

In PCOD the ovaries start releasing immature eggs that lead to hormonal imbalances and swollen ovaries, among other symptoms; while in PCOS, endocrine issues cause the ovaries to produce excess androgens, which makes eggs prone to becoming cysts.

Can a pelvic ultrasound detect PCOS? ›

There's no single test for it, but a physical exam, ultrasound, and blood tests can help diagnose PCOS.

What else could not PCOS be? ›

Other disorders that mimic the clinical features of PCOS should be excluded: thyroid disease, high prolactin levels, and non-classical congenital adrenal hyperplasia.

What is hyperandrogenism in females? ›

Hyperandrogenism happens when you have an excess amount of androgens (a group of sex hormones) in your body. It most commonly affects people assigned female at birth and can cause hirsutism, acne and irregular periods.

What causes regular periods but no ovulation? ›

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).

This is the most common cause of anovulation. PCOS causes women to ovulate irregularly or not at all. Sometimes PCOS is associated with elevated levels of testosterone, which can also cause excessive hair growth and acne.

How do I know if I'm fertile female? ›

If your menstrual cycle lasts 28 days and your period arrives like clockwork, it's likely that you'll ovulate on day 14. That's halfway through your cycle. Your fertile window begins on day 10. You're more likely to get pregnant if you have sex at least every other day between days 10 and 14 of a 28-day cycle.

Does PCOS show up in blood work? ›

There are several blood tests that may be done to help diagnose polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Examples include follicle-stimulating hormone, testosterone, prolactin, and other hormone level tests. However, none of these can confirm PCOS on its own.

What labs are abnormal in PCOS? ›

Normal AMH levels range between 0.7 ng/mL to 3.5 ng/mL. Levels below 0.3 ng/mL are considered low and indicate that lower numbers of eggs are within the ovary and decreased fertility. Levels above 5.0 ng/mL are high and can indicate PCOS.

Can a gynecologist diagnose PCOS? ›

A gynecologist will make a final diagnosis if the patient's blood tests show elevated androgen levels, the ultrasound shows ovarian cysts and the patient displays the other symptoms listed above.

What are the three main symptoms of PCOS? ›

Common symptoms of PCOS include: irregular periods or no periods at all. difficulty getting pregnant (because of irregular ovulation or no ovulation) excessive hair growth (hirsutism) – usually on the face, chest, back or buttocks.

Can you get a flat stomach with PCOS? ›

As mentioned earlier, the PCOS belly shape is usually large and bloated but can also be small. This means you can have a flat stomach and still have PCOS, so watch out for other symptoms. Those with a big belly can gain a flat tummy through dietary and lifestyle changes.

What are the three main features of PCOS? ›

irregular periods or no periods at all. difficulty getting pregnant as a result of irregular ovulation or no ovulation. excessive hair growth (hirsutism) – usually on the face, chest, back or buttocks. weight gain.

Are periods heavy or light with PCOS? ›

The symptoms of PCOS may include: Missed periods, irregular periods, or very light periods.

How much do you bleed with PCOS? ›

Menorrhagia is characterised by severe bleeding that lasts for seven days or longer. The average blood loss during a regular period is usually 40-40ml. Women suffering from menorrhagia can pass more than 80ml of blood, and also experience clotting during their period.

Does PCOS cause light or heavy periods? ›

Polycystic (pronounced: pol-ee-SISS-tik) ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common health problem that can affect teen girls and young women. It can cause irregular menstrual periods, make periods heavier, or even make periods stop. It can also cause a girl to have excess hair and acne.

When should I get a blood test for PCOS? ›

If you have PCOS, you will need a cholesterol and diabetes test every 1-3 years, and a blood pressure check every year. If you have risk factors such as a family history of diabetes or previous abnormal cholesterol tests, you will need these tests more often.

Do Endocrinologists treat PCOS? ›

Endocrinologists: With advanced training in a wide variety of hormone-related medical problems, these specialists diagnose and treat PCOS as part of their medical focus but some focus on treating this condition specifically, which would be ideal for those in bigger cities or with access to a teaching hospital.

What is PCOS vs endometriosis? ›

Endometriosis is a condition where tissue that resembles the lining of the uterus grows outside of the uterine cavity, such as on the ovaries, bowel, or the tissues lining the pelvis. PCOS is a condition that affects a female's hormone levels. Females with PCOS have higher levels of “male hormones,” known as androgens.

What vitamins should I take for PCOS? ›

B vitamins such as B12 and folate are among the most helpful in treating PCOS naturally. Specifically, they're thought to help fight insulin resistance in those with PCOS.

What are the signs of insulin resistance PCOS? ›

Symptoms of Insulin Resistance in Women With PCOS

Hunger: High insulin levels can lead to excessive hunger. Weight gain and difficulty losing weight: Insulin helps your body store glucose in the liver and muscles to fuel your body. Extra glucose is stored as fat, which may lead to weight gain and trouble losing weight.

How does a pelvic exam detect PCOS? ›

Currently, there is no single test to diagnose PCOS. Your doctor will start by performing a thorough physical examination, including a pelvic exam to determine if your ovaries are enlarged or swollen. You may also have a vaginal ultrasound to examine your ovaries for cysts and check for other abnormalities.

What are the signs of estrogen dominance PCOS? ›

What is estrogen dominance?
  • Irregular periods.
  • Spotting.
  • Heavy periods.
  • PMS.
  • Bloating.
  • Difficulty sleeping.
  • Fatigue.
  • Low libido.
Jun 10, 2020

What can make PCOS flare up? ›

Hormone levels

An imbalance in the body of the hormones insulin and androgens (male-type hormones, such as testosterone) causes the symptoms and signs of PCOS. One of the roles of insulin in the body is to keep levels of glucose (sugar or energy) in the blood from rising too high after eating.

Can PCOS change your facial features? ›

Often, the skin can be a window to what is occurring inside your body. For women with polycystic ovarian syndrome, or PCOS, this this may mean acne, hair loss, excessive facial or body hair growth, dark patches on the skin, or any combination of these issues.

What is female Virilisation? ›

Virilization is a condition in which a female develops characteristics associated with male hormones (androgens), or when a newborn has characteristics of male hormone exposure at birth.

What is Rotterdam criteria? ›

According to the Rotterdam consensus,1 polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is defined by the presence of two of three of the following criteria: oligo‐anovulation, hyperandrogenism and polycystic ovaries (≥ 12 follicles measuring 2‐9 mm in diameter and/or an ovarian volume > 10 mL in at least one ovary).

What are the face signs of high testosterone? ›

Besides affecting your jawline, high testosterone levels also result in a wider and 'bonier' facial area. This means a wider face, sharper cheekbones, and a strong chin.

Am I ovulating if I have regular periods? ›

Normal menstruation indicates that you are ovulating; however, there are other reasons why you may not be able to get pregnant, and these should also be evaluated.

What are the signs that you are not ovulating? ›

A menstrual cycle that's too long (35 days or more), too short (less than 21 days), irregular or absent can mean that you're not ovulating. There might be no other signs or symptoms.

What is Oligomenorrhea? ›

Oligomenorrhea — Oligomenorrhea is the medical term for infrequent menstrual periods (fewer than six to eight periods per year). The causes, evaluation, and treatment of amenorrhea and oligomenorrhea are similar and will be discussed together. CAUSES OF IRREGULAR PERIODS.

What are 4 causes for female infertility? ›

Problems with ovulation are the most common reasons for infertility in women. A woman's age, hormonal imbalances, weight, exposure to chemicals or radiation and cigarette smoking all have an impact on fertility. Other reasons include: Cervical mucus issues.

Does female masturabation cause infertility? ›

Masturbating doesn't affect your fertility at all. There are many myths about infertility. Some people believe that masturbation can cause infertility. However, no matter your genitals, gender, or age, masturbation can't affect your ability to become pregnant or carry a pregnancy to term.

How can I increase my fertility in my 30s? ›

Let's take a look at six ways to help boost fertility in your 30s:
  1. Eat Fewer Carbs. ...
  2. Offload Some Of Your Stress. ...
  3. Consider Your BMI. ...
  4. Seek Out Those Vitamin And Mineral Supplements. ...
  5. Mind Those Plastics. ...
  6. Speak To Your Doctor Or A Fertility Consultant.
Oct 15, 2021

Can you miss ovulation with PCOS? ›

Women with PCOS may not ovulate, have high levels of androgens, and have many small cysts on the ovaries. PCOS can cause missed or irregular menstrual periods, excess hair growth, acne, infertility, and weight gain.

How do I know if I'm ovulating with PCOS? ›

Women with PCOS often experience cycles in which ovulation does not occur, but the good news is that there is an easy way to confirm ovulation from the comfort of home. PdG tests measure a urine marker of the hormone progesterone. A presence of PdG after ovulation confirms that ovulation did in fact occur.

Do you ovulate at all with PCOS? ›

If you have PCOS although the polycystic ovaries contain follicles with eggs in them, the follicles do not develop and mature properly - so there is no ovulation or release of eggs. This is called anovulation.

Does PCOS cause no ovulation? ›

Myth #1: You Did Something to Cause It

“While all women produce small amounts of androgens, those with PCOS have more androgens than normal, which can prevent ovulation and make it difficult to have regular menstrual cycles,” explained Justin Sloane, MD, physician at Penn Ob/Gyn Chester County.

Can I get pregnant at 40 with PCOS? ›

1 While some females do conceive naturally well into their 40s, the need for fertility assistance is more likely. The issue with PCOS, of course, is that hormonal imbalances caused by the disorder can interfere with the growth and release of eggs from the ovaries. If you don't ovulate, you cannot get pregnant.

What are the hormone levels for PCOS? ›

FSH and LH are often both in the range of about 4-8 in young fertile women. In women with polycystic ovaries the LH to FSH ratio is often higher – for example 2:1, or even 3:1. With PCOS we often see the FSH in the range of about 4-8 as well – but often the LH levels are 10-20.

Is metformin good for polycystic ovaries? ›

Metformin is an effective ovulation induction agent for non-obese women with PCOS and offers some advantages over other first line treatments for anovulatory infertility such as clomiphene. For clomiphene-resistant women, metformin alone or in combination with clomiphene is an effective next step.

What does cervical mucus look like with PCOS? ›

However, women with PCOS and anovulatory cycles were found to have cervical mucus that is more compact and less symmetric. The changes seen in the cervical mucus in these women likely contribute to having a more dense, impenetrable mucus, making passage of sperm difficult and thereby contributing to their infertility.

Are you more likely to have a boy or girl with PCOS? ›

Results: No significant difference in sex ratio was detected between PCOS and controls, even if it resulted significantly different in the full-blown and non-PCO phenotypes.


1. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome | PCOS | Nucleus Health
(Nucleus Medical Media)
2. Diagnosing PCOS Correctly | Maitri | Dr Anjali Kumar
3. Pinoy MD: Ano ba ang mga senyales ng PCOS?
(GMA Public Affairs)
4. What does brown spotting with delayed cycle in young PCOS women indicate? - Dr. Phani Madhuri
(Doctors' Circle World's Largest Health Platform)
5. How to Diagnose PCOS? in Urdu/Hindi
(Dr. Sophia Umair Bajwa)
6. Diagnosing PCOS: How do you know?
(Chiral Balance)
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