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Find out the impact each health marker has on your health with our bite-sized information. We also provide deep dives for those who want to know more
Can I Get Pregnant If I Have Pcos
Yes, you can get pregnant if you have PCOS. PCOS can make it hard to conceive while also increasing your risk for certain pregnancy complications. Your healthcare provider will work with you to develop a treatment plan to help you ovulate. Your treatment plan could include medication or assisted reproductive technologies like IVF .
Talk to your healthcare provider to make sure you understand your treatment plan and how you can increase your chances for a healthy and successful pregnancy.
What Tests Are Included In This Package
Luteinising hormone plays a key role in reproduction. Mid-cycle, your LH levels increase which triggers your ovaries to release an egg ovulation. If your LH levels are too high or low you might have irregular periods and have trouble getting pregnant. High LH levels can be a sign that youre menopausal or have PCOS.
Follicle-stimulating hormone helps your ovaries to function normally and plays a key role in egg production and ovulation. Your FSH levels naturally increase as you age high levels can be a sign that youre menopausal. If your FSH levels are too high or low you might have trouble getting pregnant.
Testosterone is a sex hormone thats important for your sex drive, bone and muscle health, mood, and cognitive function. Your levels gradually drop as you age this process speeds up around perimenopause and menopause. If your levels are out of range you might feel tired, have a low sex drive, and have low mood.
Sex hormone-binding globulin binds with certain hormones and transports them in your blood. When these hormones are bound to SHBG your body cant use them. This helps regulate how much is available for your body to use. If your SHBG levels are too high or low it can cause affect your testosterone and oestradiol levels.
A basic thyroid profile measures Thyroxine , the main hormone produced by your thyroid, and thyroid-stimulating hormone a hormone that regulates your thyroid.
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Lutenizing Hormone And Follicle Stimulating Hormone
LH levels in PCOS are one of the first things that are measured when this condition is suspected. Both, LH and FSH, are involved in the process of ovulation as they encourage it. These hormones are secreted by the pituitary gland which is located in the brain. To understand how the LH levels in PCOS might get affected, it is also important to take a look at what the normal levels might look like. At the beginning of the cycle, LH and FSH hormones might fall in the range of 5-20mlU/ml often present in equal amounts. However, 24 hours before ovulation, there is a surge in the LH levels and the hormone rises to 25-40mlU/ml. Following the release of the egg, the LH levels go back down.
The difference with PCOS is that even though both these hormones might still be in their optimal range, the LH levels in PCOS are often two or three times higher than FSH. For example if the FSH level is around 6mlU/ml the LH levels in PCOS would be 18mlU/ml.
What Are The Different Types Of Hormones
Endocrine glands are located throughout the body. These glands include the:
- Hypothalamus: controls thirst, hunger, sleep, sex drive, moods, body temperature, and the release of other hormones
- Parathyroid: controls calcium
- Ovaries, in women: controls female sex hormones
- Testes, in men: controls male sex hormones
There are several different types of hormones in the body. When you have a hormonal imbalance, you may have a problem in one of more of these glands. The specific hormone thatâs imbalanced will determine the signs and symptoms that you experience as a result. Some of the major hormones found in the body include:
- Estrogen: controls sex drive in both men and women, and regulates the menstrual cycle in women
- Progesterone: influences the bodyâs changes through pregnancy
- Testosterone: controls sex drive in both men and women
- Cortisol: controls stress
- Melatonin: controlâs the bodyâs circadian rhythm and sleep cycles
- Serotonin: controls sleep cycles, appetite, and mood
- Growth hormone: controls the reproduction of cells and their subsequent growth
- Leptin: controls appetite, signaling when youâre full
- Ghrelin: controls appetite, signaling when youâre hungry
- Insulin: responds to sugar in the bloodstream
If your hormones are well-balanced, you will thrive. An imbalance, however, is something you cannot afford to ignore.
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What’s Covered In This Blood Test
A main feature of PCOS can be high testosterone levels. This can lead to symptoms like irregular or absent periods, excessive hair growth on your body, weight gain, acne, and difficulty getting pregnant.
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What If My Blood Glucose Level Is High
If the OGTT shows that your blood glucose levels are higher than normal, your health care provider may tell you that you have impaired glucose tolerance. This often means that you are at risk for developing diabetes. Rarely, diabetes is diagnosed after an OGTT. Diabetes is an illness that can develop if your body does not make enough insulin, or when your body has trouble using the insulin that it does make. Your health care provider may suggest a fasting glucose level, an A1C, or an oral glucose test . Depending on the results, these tests are often repeated yearly or every few years.
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How Is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome Treated
Your healthcare provider will determine treatment based on your symptoms, medical history and other health conditions, and if you want to get pregnant. Treatments can include medications, lifestyle changes or a combination of both.
If you do not plan to become pregnant, treatments include:
- Hormonal birth control: Options include birth control pills, patches, shots, a vaginal ring or an intrauterine device . Hormonal birth control helps to regulate your menstrual cycle, improve acne and help with excess hair growth.
- Insulin-sensitizing medicine: Metformin is a drug used to treat diabetes. It works by helping your body process insulin. Once insulin is managed, some people with PCOS see improvements in their menstrual cycles.
- Medications to block androgens: Some drugs can block the effect of androgens. This helps control acne or hair growth caused by PCOS. Talk to your healthcare provider about whether they’re right for you.
- Lifestyle changes: Losing weight and eating a healthy diet can have a positive effect on insulin levels.
If you want to become pregnant now or in the future, treatment for PCOS includes:
Free Thyroxine And Free Triiodothyronine
Thyroid binding globulin is a protein that transports thyroid hormone & makes it so your body can’t use it. When thyroid hormone is bound it is measured via blood test as Total T4 & Total T3.
Your cells use Free T4 & Free T3. This is why we measure both of these markers in addition to TSH.
Your T4 is inactive and T3 is active. T3 is involved in your mood, menses, metabolism, and gut motility.
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When To Test Thyroid Labs
We cant discuss testing for hormone imbalances without looking at the thyroid. Thyroid testing is best down first thing in the morning and can be at any point in your cycle. We typically add these in when we are testing for other hormones.
Its important to stop any supplements with biotin at least 72 hours in advance as it can skew results.
At a minimum, I would suggest looking at:
What Do The Results Mean
The first test or baseline glucose test is your blood glucose level before you drank the glucose drink. Normal fasting blood glucose levels are less than 100 mg/dl. Your health care provider may also check your insulin level. A high level of insulin means that your body does not use insulin well . The second result of your 2hour blood glucose test measures your glucose two hours after you drank the glucose drink. This level should be less than 140mg/dl. Normal levels of glucose mean that your body is able to use glucose the way its supposed to. High levels of glucose mean you are at high risk of diabetes or meet the diagnosis for diabetes. This means that your body has a hard time using glucose, and puts you at risk for developing diabetes. If your glucose levels continue to be very high, it could mean that you have diabetes.
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The Pill And Your Thyroid
Its important to note that the pill’s role in elevating TBG, Sex Hormone Binding Globulin & Cortisol Binding Globulin is well recognized. In fact, it is how researchers can verify who is & isn’t actually taking the pill in clinical trials.
It’s also listed in prescriber handbooks as a change we expect to see in labs. When TBG goes up, total thyroid hormone levels go up and free thyroid levels can go down.
Now, if you thought that total thyroid hormone was what the body utilized & that is all you measured then you might think, thyroid function is improved on birth control. However, FREE thyroid hormone is what you use, and not bound thyroid hormone .
This is why I test thyroid hormones in my patients before they start the pill and we continue to monitor symptoms & labs to ensure it is working best for them. Yes, some of my patients decide to use the pill for birth control or other reasons and I support them in doing that.
From the research, it appears progesterone, progestin, & topical estrogen do NOT elevate TBG. It is oral estrogen that influences the increase in binding proteins.
If you want a deep dive into the Birth Control-Thyroid Connection, then you can read all about it in this article.
What Are The Symptoms Of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
The most common symptoms of PCOS include:
- Irregular periods: Abnormal menstruation involves missing periods or not having a period at all. It may also involve heavy bleeding during periods.
- Abnormal hair growth: Excess facial hair and heavy hair growth on the arms, chest and abdomen . This affects up to 70% of women with PCOS.
- Acne: PCOS can cause acne, especially on the back, chest and face. This acne may continue past the teenage years and may be difficult to treat.
- Obesity: About 80% of women with PCOS are overweight or have obesity, and have trouble losing weight.
- Darkening of the skin: Patches of dark skin, especially in the folds of your neck, armpits, groin and under the breasts. This is known as acanthosis nigricans.
- Cysts: Many women with PCOS have small pockets of fluid in their ovaries.
- Skin tags:Skin tags are little flaps of extra skin. They’re often found in the armpits or on the neck in women with PCOS.
- Thinning hair: People with PCOS may lose patches of hair on their heads or start to go bald.
- Infertility: PCOS is the most common cause of female infertility. Decreased frequency or lack of ovulation can result in not being able to conceive.
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Everlywell Womens Health Test
The Everlywell Womens Health Test is the most comprehensive in our lineup, as it tests for 11 biomarkers. Of these biomarkers, 10 are hormones and 1 is an antibody. The test analyzes estradiol, LH, FSH, dehydroepiandrosterone , thyroid-stimulating hormone , free T3, free T4, free testosterone, and thyroid peroxidase antibodies.
The test isnt marketed specifically for PCOS. Instead, it measures key female hormones, many of which are associated with the condition.
Everlywell has great reviews, and the test is reasonably priced considering how many hormones it tests for. Also, Everlywell works with laboratories that hold CLIA certification, so you can have confidence in your results.
Testing is simple. After you place your order and receive the kit, register it online. Youll then need to collect a finger-prick blood sample and saliva sample and return them in the mail for analysis. Your physician-reviewed digital results are delivered to the secure platform within a few days.
Testing Adolescents For Pcos
It is difficult to diagnose PCOS in young women during the first few years after their periods commence. In adolescents, menstrual cycles can be irregular for reasons unrelated to PCOS, especially in the first few years after periods start. In the first year, periods are often irregular, and by the second year periods normally settle into a regular pattern.
In young women with PCOS, however, this does not happen. Instead, periods are either very close together or far apart . If this irregularity continues after three years, this suggests PCOS might be the cause.
When to test
Because periods can be irregular for other reasons during the first few years, it is best to wait until after three years of irregular periods before assessing whether the cause is PCOS. However, if there are other bothersome symptoms, such as excess hair growth, acne or weight excess, an assessment for PCOS can be made earlier.
In some adolescents, a number of the features of PCOS are present, but it is still not possible to make a definite diagnosis of PCOS. These young women are regarded as at risk of PCOS, and they will have further follow-up assessments by their doctor.
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Can A Blood Test Help To Diagnose Menopause
Yes, in certain circumstances but their reliability depends on your age and several other factors. More on this will be explained below, but first, its important to understand that hormonal blood tests work by measuring the hormone levels in your blood. When you are in menopause or post-menopause, the hormonal changes expected to be found in your blood are low levels of the sex hormone estradiol and raised levels of the gonadotrophin hormones FSH and LH , which control the functioning of the ovaries. When the ovaries start to fail, FSH and LH levels increase in an attempt to keep the ovaries going. If a blood test confirms raised menopause-range FSH levels, it can be a good indication that you are undergoing menopause. However, it is not clear cut! A test indicating raised, menopausal-range FSH levels should be repeated in 6 weeks to confirm that you are in menopause. In contrast, a normal, non-menopausal range FSH level does not rule out menopause.
What Is The Significance Of Fsh
These essential reproductive hormones are performed to monitor hormonal changes causing infertility. Follicle Stimulating hormone is linked with the development and reproduction of eggs in females. It influences the maturation and growth of follicles in the ovaries. FSH supports the ovary to respond to LH. LH is responsible for ovulation and reproduction. The key function of the prolactin hormone in milk production after giving birth to the child. The disorders affecting ovaries and pituitary glands can lead to abnormal FSH levels. It results in infertility, delayed puberty, and irregular menstruation. So, it is quite essential to undergo a female hormone test from Redcliffe labs.
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Health Conditions And Female Hormones
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is a condition that stops eggs from developing normally in the ovaries. Symptoms of PCOS include:
- Excessive hair growth
- Irregular or missed periods
- High levels of the male hormone testosterone
Thyroid problems, such as an overactive or underactive thyroid, can also affect the development of eggs in your ovaries and hence affect your hormone levels.
Testing your hormone levels can help you to understand whether a health problem, such as PCOS or a thyroid problem, is leading to hormonal changes in your body.
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Oral Glucose Tolerance Test
An oral glucose tolerance test measures your response to sugar. Insulin is the major hormone that regulates blood sugar and the way it is metabolized for energy. For the OGTT, you will be given a very sweet, sugary solution to drink. Blood tests will be drawn before the test and one and two hours after. Urine samples may be collected as well.
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How To Test For Pcos The Ongoing Debate
As you can see, a polycystic ovary syndrome evaluation is less of a rigid checklist that health care providers measure patients against, and more of a complicated, dynamic chronic condition that involves symptoms that have the ability to change over time. This is further reflected in the fact that the debate around how to test for PCOS is still being discussed among experts themselves.
For that reason, if youre not sure about your doctors diagnosis, we absolutely encourage you to get a second opinion. This is something we can help with at Allara as well. When it comes to your health, theres no such thing as being too big of an advocate for yourself.
Allara provides personalized treatment that takes the guesswork out of managing PCOS, and offers a customized, holistic plan of attack that merges nutrition, medication. supplementation, and ongoing, expert support to begin healing your body.