PCOS and Hormone Levels – A Brief Guide
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Hormonal Imbalance in Women with PCOS
Hormones are endocrine secretions that act as a pivot around which this condition revolves. While healthcare workers have not yet established a precise cause, experts believe that an imbalance in the hormones within the brain and ovaries is a significant factor.
These secretions play a crucial role in regulating your body’s functions, and even slight deviations can lead to noticeable symptoms. When we talk about PCOS, 2 hormones stand out: luteinizing hormone (LH) and insulin.
Elevated levels of hormones LH and insulin stimulate your ovaries to overproduce testosterone (a male hormone), resulting in physical changes that are usually seen in men, like unwanted coarse hair on the face, acne, and male pattern baldness.
Other than these two, the ovaries and adrenal glands both contribute to the overproduction of androgens, disrupting normal ovarian function. Determining hormone levels is crucial to diagnosing PCOS as well as ruling out other conditions that show up with similar conditions.
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Using FSH and LH Hormone Levels As Diagnostic Markers PCOS
One key aspect of diagnosing PCOS involves examining the ratio between two hormones:
- Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH)
- Luteinizing hormone (LH)
During a normal menstrual cycle, both FSH and LH circulate at a specific level and times to ensure adequate follicle and egg development. Typically, the ratio of FSH to LH is 1:1 in young fertile women, with levels ranging from approximately 4-8 for both hormones.
However, in women with polycystic ovaries (PCOS), the LH to FSH hormone ratio is often higher, like 2:1 or even 3:1. That is why they show clear signs like excessive weight gain or hair loss.
Under some circumstances, FSH and LH levels in PCOS may still exhibit to be normal. Therefore, relying solely on them is not the right thing to do.
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Apart from these two mentioned above, your doctor may recommend other diagnostic tools based on clinical suspicions. Some of them include:
1. Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) test: This test is essential to rule out thyroid disorders, such as the presence of an underactive or hyperactive thyroid that presents with similar symptoms to PCOS.
2. Cholesterol and lipid assessment: Both tests evaluate your risk of developing heart disease, as women with this condition often have higher cholesterol levels.
3. 24-hour urine cortisol test: It is done to rule out Cushing’s syndrome, a condition characterized by high levels of the hormone cortisol.