How to Diagnose PCOS: My Story

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If you’ve done any Google-ing, you know there are a ton of symptoms out there that can point towards PCOS (poly-cystic ovarian syndrome), but how can you diagnosis PCOS yourself? Unfortunately, many of those symptoms can mean other things, too. The best reasoning I’ve heard to help steer you in the right direction is as follows:

You May Have a PCOS diagnosis if 2 of the Following 3 Conditions Apply:

      1) You have irregular periods and/or irregular ovulation (CHECK!)
      2) You have too much androgen in your body (DOUBLE-CHECK!)
      3) You have (duh) polycystic-appearing ovaries (NOT CURRENTLY, BUT I HAVE IN THE PAST)

I like this explanation as it’s a bit more well-rounded. It helped me to, at least, self-diagnose PCOS. So, for me, number one and two definitely apply. PCOS kind of crept up on me because I was on birth control for so long. Here’s the kicker and what baffles doctors (even though this is extremely common): I got pregnant within two months after stopped birth control. Many women with PCOS have difficulty getting pregnant. For me (at least for my first child), I was not one of these women.

Now, about two years post-birth, I’m back ON birth control (difficult when you are trying to figure out how to diagnose PCOS) due to the side effects my Spironolactone was presenting. Basically, Spiro was causing me to get my period (without ovulating) every 12-14 days. Not fun.

However, prior to getting on Spiro (and then b.c.), I was getting my period once every 45-60 days. And I was ovulating maybe once every two months. Yay for more time without a period, but boo for a wacky body.

In fact, the last time I knew I ovulated was in April 2012. I was using my favorite brand (because they are cheap!) OPK test strips to test every day, if not twice per day. Finally I got a positive! I backed it up with the Clear Blue smiley face one to be sure.

PCOS and hair lossPositive OPK — even with PCOS!

I *think* I may have also ovulated in July, but I was traveling and didn’t bring my test strips with me. Shortly thereafter, I went on Spiro and the birth control.

Number two applies to me as well. Even though my test (lab) results show all my levels within a normal range, my testosterone skews to the high side. I know the Spiro is helping because some of my symptoms have decreased–mainly the hirsutism on my jaw/neck and the oil production on my face.

So, there you have it. If you’re asking yourself “how to diagnose PCOS” maybe my story can help guide you a bit. My hair loss is definitely my biggest concern with PCOS as that is the most difficult to correct and hide.

What’s your biggest concern with PCOS?

All little girls should be told they are pretty, even if they aren’t.”
–Marilyn Monroe

2 thoughts on “How to Diagnose PCOS: My Story”

  1. Just read your article on how to diagnose PCOS and I find myself frustrated beyond belief, once again, with the lack of understanding there is on what PCOS is, and is not. Even by those of us who have it.

    Cysts “on” your ovaries have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with PCOS. Nothing! In a normal menstral cycle (in women without PCOS), as an egg matures it breaks out of the cyst it lives in inside your ovary, travels down your fallopian tube and into your uterous. In women with PCOS, the egg does not break out of its natural cyst, and over time numerous unmatured eggs remain in your ovary inside their natural cysts, half matured. this is what causes infertility, and this is the “marker” that doctors look for in an ultrasound as a diagnosis of PCOS. Not every women though has PCOS cysts, as symptoms of PCOS differ with every women. But definitely the growth of cysts on an ovary, on the outside, is not PCOS. It is frustrating because this misunderstanding has led the way for a huge misconceptions about what PCOS is in our society, and the seriousness of it.

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