Polycystic ovary syndromeDiagnosis

See your GP if you have any typical symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

See your GP if you have any typical symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

Your GP will ask about your symptoms to help rule out other possible causes, and check your blood pressure.

They'll also arrange for you to have a number of hormone tests to find out whether the excess hormone production is caused by PCOS or another hormone-related condition.

You may also need an ultrasound scan, which can show whether you have a high number of follicles in your ovaries (polycystic ovaries). The follicles are fluid-filled sacs in which eggs develop. 

You may also need a blood test to measure your hormone levels and screen for diabetes or high cholesterol.

Diagnosis criteria

A diagnosis of PCOS can usually be made if other rare causes of the same symptoms have been ruled out and you meet at least 2 of the following 3 criteria:

  • you have irregular periods or infrequent periods – this indicates that your ovaries do not regularly release eggs (ovulate) 
  • blood tests showing you have high levels of "male hormones", such as testosterone (or sometimes just the signs of excess male hormones, even if the blood test is normal)
  • scans showing you have polycystic ovaries

As only 2 of these need to be present to diagnose PCOS, you will not necessarily need to have an ultrasound scan before the condition can be confirmed.

Referral to a specialist

If you're diagnosed with PCOS, you may be treated by your GP or referred to a specialist, either a gynaecologist (a specialist in treating conditions of the female reproductive system) or an endocrinologist (a specialist in treating hormone problems).

Your GP or specialist will discuss with you the best way to manage your symptoms. They'll recommend lifestyle changes and start you on any necessary medication.

Follow-up

Depending on factors like your age and weight, you may be offered annual checks of your blood pressure and screening for diabetes if you're diagnosed with PCOS.

Page last reviewed: 31/01/2019
Next review due: 31/01/2022