Are you experiencing symptoms that could be related to Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), such as irregular periods?
If so, what type of ultrasound is best to diagnose PCOS, transvaginal or normal ultrasound? Both methods have pros and cons that make them unique in detecting different organ deformities.
In this article, we will discuss the differences between PCOS ultrasound vs normal ultrasound to evaluate PCOS and why transvaginal ultrasound is considered the best method for diagnosis.
PCOS Ultrasound vs Normal Ultrasound At A Glance
|Evaluate ovaries and surrounding structures in women with PCOS||Evaluate uterus, ovaries, and other pelvic structures in women without PCOS|
Focus of examination
|Ovaries and presence of cysts||Overall appearance of pelvic structures|
|Multiple small cysts on the ovaries||Any abnormalities or changes in the appearance of pelvic structures|
PCOS Ultrasound vs Normal Ultrasound: In Details
The main difference between a PCOS ultrasound and a normal ultrasound is the specific focus on the ovaries and the presence of cysts in a PCOS ultrasound.
A PCOS ultrasound is a pelvic ultrasound used to evaluate the appearance of the ovaries and surrounding structures in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
During a PCOS ultrasound, the radiologist will look for multiple small cysts on the ovaries, a characteristic finding in women with PCOS.
On the other hand, a normal ultrasound is a general ultrasound used to evaluate the uterus ovaries in women without PCOS and other pelvic structures in men. The radiologist will look for any abnormalities or changes in the appearance of these structures.
Can you tell if you have PCOS from an Ultrasound?
The ultrasound can help identify the characteristic finding of multiple small cysts on the ovaries, one of the criteria used to diagnose PCOS. However, it’s important to note that cysts on the ovaries alone do not necessarily indicate PCOS, as other conditions, such as ovarian tumors or functional cysts, can also cause cysts.
The diagnosis of PCOS is based on the presence of two of the following three criteria:
- Irregular or absent menstrual periods
- Elevated levels of androgen (male hormones)
- Polycystic ovaries seen on ultrasound
A combination of clinical, laboratory, and ultrasound findings is required to make a definitive diagnosis of PCOS.
Therefore, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional such as a gynecologist or endocrinologist, to evaluate your symptoms and medical history. They may perform a physical examination and do additional tests, such as hormonal blood tests or glucose tolerance tests.
What kind of Ultrasound is done for PCOS?
A few different types of ultrasound may be used to evaluate polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), but the most common is a transvaginal ultrasound.
This type of ultrasound is done by inserting a tiny probe into the vagina. The probe sends sound waves that bounce off the organs and create pictures on a screen. This allows the radiologist to see the ovaries, uterus, and other pelvic structures in detail.
Transvaginal ultrasound is considered the most sensitive method for detecting the small cysts characteristic of PCOS and is the most commonly used method by healthcare professionals in evaluating PCOS.
Another type of ultrasound that may be used to evaluate PCOS is a transabdominal ultrasound which is done by placing the ultrasound probe on the abdomen to create images of the pelvic organs. However, this method is less sensitive than transvaginal ultrasound and is not as commonly used for PCOS diagnosis.
How does PCOS look on an Ultrasound?
On an ultrasound, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is typically characterized by multiple small cysts on the ovaries. These cysts are immature follicles, small sacs containing an egg.
Normally, only one of these sacs will mature and release an egg each month. However, in women with PCOS, there can be many more cysts in the ovaries, often 12 or more. These cysts are usually small, measuring between 2 to 9 mm in diameter. This causes the ovaries to appear enlarged and contain multiple small cysts, giving them a “polycystic” appearance.
During a PCOS ultrasound, the radiologist will look at the ovaries and measure their size, shape, and consistency. They may also measure the thickness of the endometrium and the lining of the uterus and evaluate the appearance of the uterus, fallopian tubes, and surrounding structures.
Not all women with PCOS will have a polycystic appearance on an ultrasound, and that’s why a combination of clinical, laboratory, and ultrasound findings is required to make a definitive diagnosis of PCOS.
What Can A Normal Ultrasound Detect?
A general ultrasound can be used to evaluate the organs and structures:
- The uterus and ovaries: to evaluate the thickness of the endometrium, the presence of any cysts, and to check for any abnormalities or signs of disease.
- The bladder: check for any blockages or abnormalities in the urinary tract.
- The liver, gallbladder, and bile ducts: to check for any signs of disease, such as gallstones or tumors.
- The pancreas: to check for any signs of disease or abnormalities.
- The kidneys: to check for any blockages, abnormalities, or signs of disease.
- The thyroid: to check for any lumps, nodules, or other abnormalities in the thyroid gland.
- The prostate: to check for any enlargements, cysts, or tumors in the prostate gland.
A general ultrasound can also be used to evaluate pregnancy, check the fetus’s development, and to monitor the growth of the fetus.
Can You Do PCOS Ultrasound During Period?
Performing a PCOS ultrasound during the early part of the menstrual cycle is generally recommended, typically between days 5 and 10. This is because the ovaries are less likely to be obscured by blood flow during this time, making it easier to see the small cysts characteristic of PCOS.
Performing the ultrasound during this window of time also allows the radiologist to evaluate the thickness of the endometrium, which can be used to help determine the patient’s menstrual phase and ovulation status.
It’s also important to note that, for a more accurate diagnosis, the radiology technician may recommend avoiding using vaginal products, such as cream, gel, or douche, for 24 hours before the exam and avoiding intercourse the night before.
PCOS is a complex condition, and a proper diagnosis should be made by a qualified healthcare professional based on a combination of clinical, laboratory, and ultrasound findings.
If you suspect you have PCOS, it is best to consult with a gynecologist or endocrinologist, who will be able to perform a full evaluation and determine the best course of action for your case.