PCOS and normal hormones? You’ve got hair embarrassingly sprouting from your chin, your belly is getting bigger and bigger, you feel exhausted or your period has gone AWOL. You head off to your health professional for testing and…
I wanted to chat about a not uncommon experience in women with PCOS. You know they have this syndrome, you’re experiencing uncomfortable, annoying signs and symptoms, but when you have the tests done, you are told the results are ‘within normal limits’. You’re “normal.” WHAT! Sometimes with a normal result, relief will flood in. But in PCOS, often we just want to know what’s wrong.
How can this be?
PCOS and normal hormones? Really, I can hear those words ringing in your head, loud and clear. Now if you’ve changed your lifestyle and everything has improved, that’s GREAT news! But if you are struggling, it’s more likely this: There are tests that are either commonly misinterpreted, and signs and symptoms that are not tested for correctly. I really wanted to discuss Follicle Stimulating Hormone and Luteinising Hormone, but first, let’s quickly touch on:
Your Thyroid Gland
As I’ve chatted about before, hypothyroidism – or a sluggish thyroid – is more common in PCOS. The main test used to assess thyroid function checks your Thyroid Stimulating Hormone, or TSH. This is the hormone that stimulates your thyroid to produce hormone. It is not the only test that should be performed in PCOS my opinion. You can read more about the correct testing in my article PCOS And Hypothyroidism – The Common, Potentially Devastating Link. If you prefer video, check out my thyroid video here.
This is a often overlooked and so very important for women with PCOS. Blood glucose testing is not good enough. Sugar is sticky, and sticky in blood vessels is dangerous. So our body does everything it can to maintain our blood sugar levels in a healthy, safe range. How? If there is too much sugar, our pancreas releases more insulin as insulin brings the sugar from the blood vessels and into your body cells. Your insulin levels can be high, but if it’s managing to keep your blood sugar in the normal range, a blood sugar only test won’t show the hidden struggle. To discover how to test insulin correctly in PCOS, read How To Correctly Test For Insulin Resistance in PCOS. Yup, there’s a video there for those of you who’ve told me that’s is how you like it!
Luteinising Hormone (LH) And Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH)
Women with PCOS commonly have higher levels of LH and low levels of FSH, but sometimes this won’t be quite so obvious on your test report. Let’s take a look at a report…
Can you see how in the top picture, if this report is interpreted as being from the luteal phase (which they have been), the individual LH and FSH numbers look like they are within ‘normal’ range? But look at the actual figures again, without worrying about what they mean. Just look at the figures. LH:FSH should have a ratio of 1:1. Look at that again. These results show 10.4:3.1. That is a give away that indicates PCOS. The healthy ratio is 1:1. Commonly, women with PCOS have ratios of 2:1 or, as in this case, 3:1. Can you see now that is not normal?
I explain more about this in detail in my Amazon bestselling book Conquer Your PCOS Naturally but in this article, I wanted to share some of the secrets of PCOS testing so you know what to ask for and what to look out for.
From PCOS to perfect health, with love,
Dr. Rebecca Harwin
The PCOS Expert
Nutritionist, Author, Chiropractor