Advanced Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) Blood Test
    Advanced Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) Blood Test
    Advanced Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) Blood Test
    Advanced Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) Blood Test

Advanced Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) Blood Test

£219.00

Check whether your symptoms could be due to polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or monitor your PCOS condition for associated risk factors.

There’s also the option to take a basic, finger-prick PCOS blood test at home.

Results estimated in 4 working days

View 19 Biomarkers

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Advanced Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) Blood Test

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Is it for you?

Are you experiencing symptoms of PCOS like irregular periods, excess facial hair, or oily skin? Perhaps you’re planning to have children and are concerned that PCOS may affect your chance of getting pregnant. Or maybe you’ve been diagnosed with PCOS and want to check your cholesterol levels and diabetes risk.

Our advanced blood test for PCOS is the perfect choice if you want to explore the cause of your symptoms and get doctor’s advice on how your hormone levels could be impacting your health and fertility.

Biomarker table

Cholesterol status

Total cholesterol

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Cholesterol is an essential fat (lipid) in the body. Although it has a bad reputation it has some important functions, including building cell membranes and producing a number of essential hormones including testosterone and oestradiol. Cholesterol is manufactured in the liver and also comes from the food we eat. Although there are a number of different types of cholesterol, the two main components of total cholesterol are HDL (high density lipoprotein) which is protective against heart disease and LDL (low density lipoprotein) which, in high levels, can contribute to cardiovascular disease. Your total cholesterol result on its own is of limited value in understanding your risk of heart disease; high levels of HDL cholesterol can cause a raised total cholesterol result but may actually be protective against heart disease. Equally, you can have a normal total cholesterol level but have low levels of protective HDL cholesterol. The most important factors are how much HDL and LDL cholesterol you have, and what proportion of your total cholesterol is made up of protective HDL cholesterol. We give a detailed breakdown of the components of your total cholesterol in the rest of this cholesterol profile.

LDL cholesterol

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LDL cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein) is a molecule made of lipids and proteins which transports cholesterol, triglycerides and other fats to various tissues throughout the body. Too much LDL cholesterol, commonly called 'bad cholesterol', can cause fatty deposits to accumulate inside artery walls, potentially leading to atherosclerosis and heart disease.

Non-HDL cholesterol

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Your total cholesterol is broken down into 2 main components; HDL (good) cholesterol and LDL (bad). There are more types of harmful cholesterol in your blood than just LDL - these include VLDL (very low-density lipoproteins) and other lipoproteins which are thought to be even more harmful than LDL cholesterol. Non-HDL cholesterol is calculated by subtracting your HDL cholesterol value from your total cholesterol. It therefore includes all the non-protective and potentially harmful cholesterol in your blood, not just LDL. As such, it is considered to be a better marker for cardiovascular risk than total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. The recommended level of non-HDL cholesterol is below 4 mmol/L.

HDL cholesterol

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HDL cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein) is a molecule in the body which removes cholesterol from the bloodstream and transports it to the liver where it is broken down and removed from the body in bile. HDL cholesterol is commonly known as 'good cholesterol'.

Total cholesterol : HDL

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The cholesterol/HDL ratio is calculated by dividing your total cholesterol value by your HDL cholesterol level. It is used as a measure of cardiovascular risk because it gives a good insight into the proportion of your total cholesterol which is good (i.e. high-density lipoprotein HDL). Heart disease risk tools (such as QRisk) use the cholesterol/HDL ratio to calculate your risk of having a heart attack.

Triglycerides

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Triglycerides are a type of fat (lipid) that circulate in the blood. After you eat, your body converts excess calories (whether from fat or carbohydrates) into triglycerides which are then transported to cells to be stored as fat. Your body then releases triglycerides when required for energy.

Diabetes

HbA1c

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Haemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), also known as glycated haemoglobin, is a longer-term measure of glucose levels in your blood than a simple blood glucose test. Glucose attaches itself to the haemoglobin in your red blood cells, and as your cells live for around 12-16 weeks, it gives us a good indication of the average level of sugar in your blood over a 3-month period.

A raised HbA1c result points to diabetes or an increased risk of developing diabetes, which can have a significant impact on your lifespan and quality of life. Complications of uncontrolled diabetes include heart disease, kidney disease, eye problems, and vascular conditions. It can also contribute to mental health problems. And men with diabetes are three times more likely to have erectile dysfunction. Keeping your HbA1c within a normal range can help you reduce the risk of these conditions.

Hormones

FSH

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Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) is produced in the pituitary gland and is important for women in the production of eggs by the ovaries and for men in the production of sperm. In the first half of the menstrual cycle in women, FSH stimulates the enlargement of follicles within the ovaries. Each of these follicles will help to increase oestradiol levels. One follicle will become dominant and will be released by the ovary (ovulation), after which follicle stimulating hormone levels drop during the second half of the menstrual cycle. In men, FSH acts on the seminiferous tubules of the testicles where they stimulate immature sperm cells to develop into mature sperm.

LH

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Luteinising Hormone (LH) is produced by the pituitary gland and is important for male and female fertility. In women it governs the menstrual cycle, peaking before ovulation. In men it stimulates the production of testosterone.

Oestradiol

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Oestradiol is a female steroid hormone, produced in the ovaries of women and to a much lesser extent in the testes of men. It is the strongest of three oestrogens and is responsible for the female reproductive system as well as the growth of breast tissue and bone thickness. In pre-menopausal women, oestradiol levels vary throughout the monthly cycle, peaking at ovulation. In women, oestradiol levels decline with age, culminating with the menopause when the ovaries stop producing eggs. Low oestradiol can cause many symptoms associated with the menopause, including hot flushes, night sweats and mood swings. Low oestradiol can also cause osteoporosis.

Anti - Müllerian hormone

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Testosterone

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Testosterone is a hormone that causes male characteristics. For men, it helps to regulate sex drive and has a role in controlling bone mass, fat distribution, muscle mass, strength and the production of red blood cells and sperm. Testosterone is produced in the testicles of men and, in much smaller amounts, in the ovaries of women. Testosterone levels in men naturally decline after the age of 30, although lower than normal levels can occur at any age and can cause low libido, erectile dysfunction, difficulty in gaining and maintaining muscle mass and lack of energy. Although women have much lower amounts of testosterone than men, it is important for much the same reasons, playing a role in libido, the distribution of muscle and fat and the formation of red blood cells. All laboratories will slightly differ in the reference ranges they apply because they are based on the population they are testing. The normal range is set so that 95% of men will fall into it. For greater consistency, we use the guidance from the British Society for Sexual Medicine (BSSM) which advises that low testosterone can be diagnosed when testosterone is consistently below the reference range, and that levels below 12 nmol/L could also be considered low, especially in men who also report symptoms of low testosterone or who have low levels of free testosterone.

Free testosterone - calc

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Most testosterone circulating in the blood is bound to proteins, in particular SHBG and albumin; only 2-3 % of testosterone is free and available to cells. This test uses an algorithm to calculate the level of free or unbound testosterone in relation to total testosterone, SHBG and albumin.

Prolactin

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Prolactin is a hormone which is produced in the pituitary gland and plays a role in reproductive health. Its primary purpose is to stimulate milk production after childbirth, and in pregnant and breastfeeding women prolactin levels can soar.

Proteins

Total protein

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Total Protein represents the sum of the proteins albumin and globulin in your blood. Albumin and globulin have a range of functions including keeping blood within vessels, transporting nutrients and fighting infection. Abnormal levels can indicate malnutrition as well as a liver or kidney disorder.

Albumin

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Albumin is a protein which is made mainly in the liver. It helps to exert the osmotic pressure which holds water within the blood. It also helps carry nutrients and medications and other substances through the blood and is important for tissue growth and healing. Albumin also carries hormones around the body, therefore measuring the amount of albumin in the blood can help us calculate how much hormone is available to your tissues.

Globulin

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Globulin is an umbrella term for a set of different proteins that the immune system and the liver produce. Certain globulins bind with haemoglobin while others transport metals, such as iron, in the blood. Additionally, there is a certain type of globulin known as an immunoglobulin, (another name for an antibody) which helps to fight infection in the body.

SHBG

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SHBG (sex hormone binding globulin) is a protein which transports the sex hormones (testosterone, oestrogen and dihydrotestosterone (DHT)) in the blood.Hormones which are bound to SHBG are inactive which means that they are unavailable to your cells. Measuring the level of SHBG in your blood gives important information about your levels of free or unbound hormones which are biologically active and available for use.

Thyroid hormones

TSH

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Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) is produced in the pituitary gland in order to regulate the production of thyroid hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) by the thyroid gland. If thyroid hormones in the blood are low, then more TSH is produced to stimulate the thyroid gland to produce more of them. If thyroid hormone levels are high, then the pituitary produces less TSH to slow the production of thyroid hormones. If TSH is too high or too low, it normally signifies that there is a problem with the thyroid gland which is causing it to under or over produce thyroid hormones. Sometimes a disorder of the pituitary gland can also cause abnormal TSH levels.
Special instructions

How to prepare for your test

Prepare for your Advanced Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) Blood Test by following these instructions. Take your sample between 6am and 10am. Avoid nipple stimulation or any kind of sexual activity for 24 hours before taking this test, as these can increase prolactin levels. Heavy meals and strenuous exercise can also impact prolactin results and are best avoided before taking the test. Take this test two to five days after the start of your period, ideally on day three. It can be taken any time if you do not have periods. Avoid fatty foods for eight hours before your test, you do not need to fast. Do not take biotin supplements for two days before this test, discuss this with your doctor if it is prescribed. Hormonal contraception can affect the results of this test. Taking a break from this and waiting for your periods to restart before your blood test will give more accurate results.

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FAQs

What is polycystic ovary syndrome?

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common condition that affects how your ovaries work. It’s thought to be caused by a hormone imbalance, and polycystic ovaries is one of the main features of the condition.

Polycystic ovaries contain many underdeveloped follicles, which are tiny sacs where eggs develop. This can stop eggs from developing normally and impact the release of an egg from your ovaries during ovulation. PCOS may cause irregular ovulation or stop you from ovulating. So, if you want to have a family, the condition can make it difficult to get pregnant.

Another common feature of PCOS is higher-than normal levels of male hormones (or androgens) in your blood.

What are the symptoms of PCOS?

There are many PCOS symptoms, but the main ones are irregular or missed periods and excess facial or body hair, which is caused by raised levels of male hormones in your body.

Other symptoms can include weight gain, thinning hair or hair loss, oily skin or acne, and difficulty getting pregnant because of irregular ovulation or no ovulation.

Some people with PCOS can experience depression and other mental health issues because of their condition. You should speak to your doctor if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms.

What can I learn from this test?

Our PCOS blood test helps you investigate your likelihood of having PCOS by taking a comprehensive look at your hormones.

It tests your testosterone, luteinising hormone (LH), and anti-Müllerian hormone levels, which can be higher-than-normal in PCOS, along with follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), which can be lower-than-normal with this condition. Your prolactin level can give you insights into your fertility.

Our PCOS hormone test also investigates other possible causes of your symptoms, such as thyroid conditions, which share some symptoms with PCOS. And it checks your diabetes risk and cholesterol levels, as both can be raised in women with PCOS.

What causes PCOS?

The exact cause of PCOS is unknown, but it’s thought to be related to a hormone imbalance. Many women with PCOS develop insulin resistance. This causes the body to produce more insulin to compensate, which can cause the ovaries to produce excess testosterone.

Some women have abnormal levels of hormones that control the menstrual cycle, like LH and FSH. But the reason for these abnormalities is unknown. PCOS can also run in families, so it’s important to let your doctor know if this is the case for you.

Can you get pregnant with polycystic ovary syndrome?

PCOS can make it difficult to get pregnant, as some women with PCOS don’t ovulate or ovulate infrequently. However, with treatment, most women with PCOS can get pregnant. If lifestyle changes to improve fertility aren’t successful, medications that encourage ovulation such as clomifene may be helpful.

PCOS is one of the most common causes of female infertility. You can find out more from the PCOS charity, Verity — its website features resources and advice for women with PCOS.

How can you treat polycystic ovary syndrome?

Although PCOS cannot be cured, there are lots of treatment options available to help manage the symptoms. Treatments vary depending on the symptoms. They can help prevent complications and, if you want to have a family, improve your chances of getting pregnant.

You can make simple lifestyle changes to manage your PCOS symptoms. These include eating a healthy, balanced diet, exercising regularly, and managing stress. Lifestyle changes can also help reduce your chances of developing other health conditions related to PCOS, such as type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol.

Can PCOS affect my long-term health?

Unfortunately, PCOS can be a lifelong condition that’s associated with long-term health risks. Women with PCOS who are insulin-resistant have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. PCOS is also associated with high cholesterol levels.

These risks are greater if you’re overweight. So, if you have PCOS, it’s important to eat a healthy, balanced diet and exercise regularly, as this can help you maintain a normal weight.

How is PCOS diagnosed?

Your GP will ask you about your symptoms to help rule out other possible causes. Blood testing can help find out whether a hormone imbalance is due to PCOS or another hormone-related condition. You may also need an ultrasound scan, which can check the appearance of your ovaries and show whether you have a high number of follicles in your ovaries (polycystic ovaries).

PCOS is usually diagnosed if you meet at least two of the following three criteria: irregular or absent periods, which indicate an issue with ovulation; higher-than-normal levels of male hormones such as testosterone; and polycystic ovaries.

Limitations of the test

Read before you order:

This test is not diagnostic, but it can help establish whether you meet one of the three criteria for PCOS diagnosis (raised androgen levels). Excess androgen levels can be diagnosed through a blood test or clinically through signs of high androgen levels such as acne and oily skin, and excess hair growth on the face and body.

For a diagnosis of PCOS, you must meet two of the three criteria for PCOS diagnosis: excess androgen levels, polycystic ovaries, and irregular or absent periods, which indicate an issue with ovulation.

As you must meet two of the three criteria for diagnosis, a normal blood test result does not always rule out PCOS. Diagnosis requires a full assessment by a healthcare professional. You can find out more about PCOS diagnosis in our FAQs.

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