Environmental factors

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At-home PCOS tests may provide an insight into hormone levels that a person can then share with their doctor or healthcare professional. However, alone, they are unable to diagnose PCOS.

A quick look at the best at-home PCOS tests

Sex and gender exist on spectrums. For the purposes of this article, we use “female” to refer to a person’s sex assigned at birth.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a common condition that affects a female’s ovaries. People with PCOS are often unable to ovulate which can lead to irregular menstrual cycles. PCOS is also linked with the development of other conditions in later life, such as type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol levels, and other cardiovascular issues. PCOS is also one of the most common causes of infertility.

The exact cause of PCOS is unknown, although researchers and healthcare professionals usually cite a combination of genetic and environmental factors. According to a 2019 studyalthough PCOS is proven to be extremely heterogenetic, it has not yet been possible to find a single gene variant that underlies the condition.

Some common symptoms of PCOS are:

  • heavy periods
  • infertility
  • weight gain or difficulty losing weight, particularly around the waist
  • excessive hair growth, particularly around the face, chest, stomach, and upper thighs
  • pelvic pain
  • oily skin or acne
  • irregular or absent periods
  • male pattern hair loss or hair thinning

Symptoms usually appear in a female’s teenage years or early twenties, with most caused by higher than average androgen levelsalso known as the male sex hormone.

A 2021 study found that hyperandrogenism facilitates the growth and advancement of PCOS. Higher levels of androgen can also cause the follicles to enlarge, forming cysts on the ovaries.

When diagnosing PCOS, doctors and healthcare professionals typically use the Rotterdam Criteria. The criteria include:

  • irregular or infrequent periods
  • evidence of hyperandrogenism following blood work or clinical criteria
  • the appearance of polycystic ovaries when viewed through an ultrasound scan

A person must display two of the three criteria for a doctor to diagnose PCOS.

When diagnosing PCOS, doctors and healthcare professionals look for three or more typically indicative symptoms. If a person experiences this number of symptoms, or if they have any general concerns about PCOS, they should speak with their doctor as soon as possible.

At-home PCOS tests look for female hormonal imbalances, with high androgen levels possibly indicating PCOS.

The types of samples needed for an at-home test include:

  • saliva
  • blood
  • urine
  • a combination of the above

The majority of tests provide a lancet so a person can take a blood sample using the finger-prick method.

Results are typically available within a few days of the lab receiving the test samples from the female.

Only a doctor or qualified healthcare professional can make a formal PCOS diagnosis.

However, anyone can use an at-home PCOS test if they feel they may have a hormonal imbalance. The results from such tests can help a doctor in their diagnosis.

Below, we look at some at-home PCOS tests that a person may consider.

Best for multiple collection methods: Lets Get Checked PCOS Test

This at-home test measures key hormone levels. The hormones tested include those related to stress, sex, and those responsible for the development of ovarian follicles. However, the test is not suitable for those on hormonal contraception, hormone replacement therapy, steroid or testosterone-containing medications including gels, creams, patches, and oral medication.

A person orders their test online and the company will deliver the test for free, in a discrete package.

Individuals should collect their samples in the morning, before eating or drinking. They should collect the saliva sample first, as taking blood can sometimes raise cortisol levels.

A person should then return their packaged sample on the same day, using the prepaid shipping label provided. The sample is sent to one of the company’s CLIA-certified and ISO-accredited laboratories for analysis.

Results will display via an individual’s online LetsGetChecked account, within 2-5 days. If necessary and at no extra cost, a person can discuss their results with a member of the company’s nursing team for advice on the next steps.

It is important to note that, due to state restrictions, this test is not permitted for use in New York.

Some pros and cons of the LetsGetChecked PCOS Test include:

Pros

  • tests for a range of hormones
  • uses two collection methods which may ensure greater accuracy
  • discrete packaging
  • fast results

Cons

  • may not suit those who do not wish to use a finger-prick test
  • State of New York does not permit the use of this test

Best for fertility: Modern Fertility Hormone Test

Modern Fertility is a reproductive health company that provides personalized fertility tests and follow-up information from a licensed nurse. Part of its fertility test includes looking at the hormones associated with PCOS, due to its link to fertility difficulties.

The Modern Fertility Hormone Tests measures up to eight hormones, two of which link to PCOS — testosterone and androgens. It also looks at AMH levels, that, when raised, AMH may indicate large numbers of undeveloped follicles in ovaries.

Initially, a person orders their test online that a doctor will review and personalize based on any birth control they may take. They can then choose to take the test at home or opt to visit a local Quest Diagnostics lab.

If taking the test at home, a person should follow the sample collection and packaging instructions and return the test the same day. The company will provide results via an individual’s online profile within a few days.

The company offers aftercare that includes:

  • a downloadable hormone level chart that a person can share with their doctor
  • personalized reports that discuss how hormones relate to ovarian reserve, egg freezing and IVF, and menopause
  • personal support from a nurse or via a weekly webinar
  • an online Modern Community to connect with others

There are some pros and cons that a person may consider, such as:

Pros

  • fast results via a private online account
  • results relating to other fertility-related hormones
  • shareable results, allowing a doctor to work towards a formal diagnosis
  • an array of aftercare from nurses and an online community

Cons

  • only comes with a finger prick option which may not suit those who do not like needles
  • does not detail a full list of the hormones tested
  • less affordable than other options

Best for quantity of hormones tested: Everlywell Women’s Health Test

Everlywell Women’s Health test is suitable for people at all stages of life. It tests for hormonal imbalances which could indicate PCOS.

A person orders an online test that comes with prepaid return packaging. Upon receipt of the testing kit, the individual must register the test on the company’s website, using the unique ID number provided.

The test has easy-to-follow instructions so a person can take a finger-prick blood sample and a saliva sample that they should return the same day. The results are available to view via the company’s online platform within a few days.

The results include a personalized report explaining the results and some online resources for continued learning with healthcare professionals.

Below are some pros and cons for a person to consider:

Pros

  • considers a greater number of hormones than some other tests
  • fast, online results
  • results can detect more than just PCOS

Cons

  • not as affordable as some other brands
  • unsuitable for those averse to needles

Best for noninvasive testing: DUTCH Sex Hormone Metabolites

A person orders their test online and the company will ship a testing kit. Shipping is free for those in the US, Canada, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands.

The test is urine-based, and according to the company’s website, it tests urine because it provides more accurate results than simply testing cortisol or sex hormones alone. DUTCH requires a person to collect four or five dried urine samples over 24 hours, using the test strips the company provides. The dried samples are suitable for international shipping as they are stable for several weeks.

A full timeline of how and when to collect the samples is available via the company website. Once an individual returns their samples and the lab receives them, they will process the samples and provide results within 5-10 days.

The company advises people not to take oral DHEA 48 hours prior to testing, or oral estrogen or pregnenolone 72 hours prior to testing.

Restrictions apply for ordering tests in New York, Rhode Island, and Maryland.

Some pros and cons that a person may consider include:

Pros

  • noninvasive
  • available internationally
  • flexible return (Samples are able to be kept in the freezer for a short time if a person is unable to send them back right away.)

Cons

  • less affordable than other brands
  • free shipping is only available in certain areas
  • unclear how a person receives their results

Individuals should speak with a doctor if they are experiencing symptoms that interfere with their everyday life.

If a female has taken an at-home PCOS test, they should share their results with their doctor to help them provide a formal diagnosis. Although at-home PCOS tests can provide information on hormonal imbalances, only a doctor can provide an official PCOS diagnosis.

Here are some common questions about at-home PCOS tests.

Can you self-diagnose PCOS?

A person may notice if they experience symptoms of PCOS, but only a doctor can officially diagnose it. At-home PCOS tests can provide a doctor with the results to help with diagnosis.

How does a hormone test help diagnose PCOS?

There is no test that definitively diagnoses PCOS. However, many people with PCOS have a hormonal imbalance. Hormone testing can help identify whether key hormones are outside of expected limits and help a healthcare professional make a more accurate diagnosis.

How does a doctor diagnose PCOS?

A doctor can diagnose PCOS by initially discussing a woman’s medical history and symptoms. They may then complete physical exams or arrange for an imaging test, such as an ultrasound.

PCOS is a hormonal disorder that affects a person’s ovaries. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and include pelvic pain, oily skin, and weight gain. Symptoms typically present in a person’s teenage years through to their early 20s.

At-home PCOS tests look at an individual’s hormones, as for many people, hormonal imbalances are a typical sign of PCOS. Testing samples are typically blood, saliva, or urine.

Although at-home test results can show irregularities with hormones, they are not indicative of a formal PCOS diagnosis. For this, a person must consult with a doctor or qualified healthcare professional.

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