All of us women have a love-hate relationship with our period. While we hate to go through the cycle every month, we love to get over it finally. But what if your period does not show up on time the next cycle? You’ll wait for a few more days and do a pregnancy test. However, if the test result comes negative, you’re sure to think that something is wrong with your menstrual cycle. Although the reasons can be plenty, gynecologists would usually point to one particular direction: Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
It is a hormonal disorder that introduces menstrual irregularities in women of reproductive age. PCOS is relatively common among women, and this is what makes it the most misdiagnosed condition as well.
Misdiagnosis of PCOS
It simply means that you have been diagnosed with the PCOS problem when you clearly do have the disorder. Not only would such a misdiagnosis result in you overlooking the real problem, but it would also mean that you’re intaking medicines that are of no use to you.
But if you’re thinking how can a doctor teat and read the reports wrong, we have the answer. There are several reasons for PCOS misdiagnosis, and we will explore some of the most common ones here.
Why is PCOS Misdiagnosis Common?
The people who named the disorder made a grave error, thus PCOS is a misnomer. The word ‘cyst’ gives people a negative connotation.
The word cyst in ‘PCOS’ refers to the many follicles present in the woman’s ovaries. Cyst simply means a fluid-filled structure in the body, and follicles are the normal, fluid-filled structures in ovaries, containing eggs. But the normal count of follicles in the ovaries is around 10 to 15; it is when you have more than 20 or 30 follicles in your ovaries, you are considered to be suffering from PCOS. Hence, PCOS problem is simply poly-follicle syndrome or poly-egg syndrome, where your ovaries contain so many eggs that they get confused on which egg to release every month or menstrual cycle. Your hormones go haywire on deciding what to do with all these eggs, and they just stop functioning logically.
And just like the PCOS name, ultrasounds can lie.
Ultrasounds Can be Wrong
Presence of cysts on the ovaries is quite common among women; you can have cysts without having PCOS. Only when each of your ovaries has multiple cysts is it termed as ‘poly cyst.’ And when ultrasound detects all these cysts, the doctor declares your disorder to be PCOS, which leads to misdiagnosis.
In layman terms, a cyst represents a ‘half-baked’ egg that is not yet prepared to start its journey into the world. While a normal menstrual cycle would release the necessary hormones along with the egg and trigger the ovulation, cysts would play with the hormonal balance and keep your egg ‘stuck’ to the ovaries. They’re just not yet ready to leave their ‘comfort zone.’
Here is the Correct Diagnosis
It is not necessary to have cysts to suffer from PCOS. You can have PCOS without having multiple cysts in your ovaries. There are several factors, which determine the true nature of PCOS and conclude its accurate diagnosis. As per Androgen Excess Society experts, an accurate PCOS diagnosis needs to fill these criteria:
- Hyperandrogenism: having a higher than average amount of androgens in the body, including testosterone
- Ovarian dysfunction: having multiple cysts on the ovaries, or failing to ovulate regularly, resulting in the irregular menstrual cycle
- Other related disorders: thyroid disorder
Hence, if your doctor has declared you to suffer from PCOS solely based on ultrasound results, you need to speak up and demand more tests. Ask for an androgen hormone test that examines the testosterone level, DHEAS, and androstenedione along with an insulin resistance test. All of these tests would help in the correct diagnosis of PCOS and proper medication prescription.