A hormone test you may not have thought to have
Women who have irregular cycles, skin breakouts, unwanted hair growth, or unwanted hair loss, may have thought to get some hormonal testing.
In many cases it could be that you have Polycystic Ovarian Disease (PCOS). PCOS is a hormonal condition that occurs in 1/10 women, and is usually a diagnosis made with exam, ultrasound, and blood testing. It is important to find out if you suffer from Polycyclic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) as over 7 million women in the US have this condition, which when left untreated can cause uterine lining cancer, diabetes, infertility, and obesity. For many women it can be managed simply with nutrition and exercise. However, for women with full blown PCOS management needs to be determined based on testing. Testing for male hormones, testing for lack of ovulation, and testing for metabolic disease and cardiovascular disease is standard for the evaluation of PCOS.
However, similar symptoms could be do to other hormones that are deficient, and you may not have thought to test for these. Growth hormone deficiency is now emerging as an important cause of menstrual change and testing for this does exist.
Newest treatment protocols for women with hormone imbalance also have highlighted conditions that the patient may have that look like PCOS, but may be a different disorder altogether. This has physicians testing for acromegaly, a disorder of growth hormone deficiency, that is due to malfunction of the pituitary gland. Although distinct from PCOS patients with acromegaly can have weight gain and menstrual abnormalities and be mistakenly diagnosed with PCOS. Acromegly patients can also have enlarged tongue and voice box leading to sleep apnea, headaches, joint and point problems including carpel tunnel syndrome, and a variety of heart problems including enlarged hearts or heart muscle damage.
If you have had treatments for PCOS that just aren't relieving your medical conditions, consider the appropriate hormone testing for acromegly after consultation with your gyno.