In case you didn’t know: the most common cause of infertility among women in the United States is polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). This disorder affects over 5 million women in their reproductive years, and according to the PCOS Foundation, only around half of all women with PCOS receive an appropriate diagnosis, implying that millions are unaware they have the disorder.
Diagnosis for PCOS generally requires a visit to the doctor, however this technique can be invasive, time-consuming, and costly. Fortunately, modern technology now allows women to do a variety of initial screen self-diagnostic tests for PCOS from the comfort of their own homes for a fraction of the cost and time required to see a doctor in-person.
In this article, we’ll go through the top three online PCOS testing techniques, including online quizzes, online consultations, and at-home testing kits. We’ll discuss their ease of use, how much they cost, how they’re administered, and, most importantly, their relative accuracy, so you know which you can trust.
Ready to dive in? We’ll start with a bit more background on PCOS in general. If you’re in a hurry looking for how to test yourself, jump ahead to our roundup of top PCOS testing options.
What is PCOS?
PCOS is a condition in which the ovaries create an inordinate amount of androgens, male sex hormones that are normally present in small amounts in women. The term polycystic ovarian syndrome refers to a condition in which the ovaries develop a large number of tiny cysts (fluid-filled sacs). As a result, some women’s ovaries do not release eggs, leading to infertility.
Early diagnosis and medication, combined with weight loss is frequently used to treat PCOS. This is not a cure, per se, but it does assist to reduce symptoms and lower the chances of long-term health implications, including type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
What are the causes of PCOS?
There is no known cause for PCOS. Experts agree that several factors play a role, including genetics.
- High levels of androgens: Androgens are known as “male hormones,” although all women produce a small amount of them. As a result of androgens (e.g. testosterone), male traits like male pattern baldness develop. Women with this disorder have higher levels of androgens than usual. An excess of androgen in women can prevent ovulation and cause extra hair growth and acne, which are symptoms of PCOS.
- High levels of insulin: Insulin regulates how your food breaks down into energy. Insulin resistance is a result of the body’s cells failing to respond to insulin appropriately. As a result, your insulin levels rise, and may cause higher androgen levels. Women with PCOS develop insulin resistance, especially if they are overweight or obese, eat poorly, do not exercise enough, or have family members who have diabetes (usually type 2). Eventually, insulin resistance will likely result in type 2 diabetes.
What are the symptoms of PCOS?
Symptoms of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) usually appear in late adolescence or early adulthood.
While some women only experience menstrual problems or have difficulty conceiving, it is important to understand that PCOS does not affect all women in the same way. Each symptom is unique, with women experiencing mild to severe symptoms.
PCOS symptoms include:
- Weight gain
- Irregular or absent periods
- Acne or oily skin
- Ovulation irregularities leading to infertility
- Loss of hair on the head and thinning hair
- Excessive hair growth (hirsutism) – usually on the face, chest, back, or buttocks
Potential PCOS Complications
Some complications for PCOS include:
- High blood pressure
- Metabolic Syndrome
- Sleep apnea
- Mood disorders
- Cardiovascular disease
- Endometrial cancer
What treatments are available for PCOS?
PCOS is incurable, but its symptoms can be managed and mitigated. The treatment plan you design with your doctor will be based on your symptoms, desire for children, and your likelihood of developing long-term health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.
Common PCOS treatment options may include:
- Birth control pills: These can help regulate hormone levels, menstruation, and reduce acne.
- Fertility medications: A woman can use clomiphene (Clomid), a combination of clomiphene and metformin, or injectable gonadotropins, such as FSH and LH if she wishes to conceive. Femara (letrozole) may also prove helpful in certain circumstances.
- Fertility treatments: IVF and insemination are two options.
- Diabetes medications: This is frequently used to treat insulin resistance in PCOS. It may also aid in the reduction of androgen levels, the slowing of hair growth, and the regularity with which you ovulate.
Spironolactone (Aldactone) and eflornithine (Vaniqa) can help to reduce excessive hair growth. Finasteride (Propecia) may also be helpful, but women who may become pregnant shouldn’t take it. If you’re curious to learn more, check out our hair loss reviews to learn how finasteride works, how effective it can be, and how it compares to other treatments for alopecia.
In more advanced cases of PCOS, surgery may be recommended, including:
- Oophorectomy: A surgical procedure in which the ovaries are removed.
- Ovarian drilling: A few tiny holes drilled into the ovaries can reduce the amount of androgen produced.
- Cyst aspiration: The removal of cyst fluid
- Hysterectomy: The removal of the uterus entirely or part
Sometimes simple lifestyle changes are all that’s needed to manage the symptoms of PCOS. These can include:
- Diet. Ensure you always have a balanced diet. Also, eat more fruits and vegetables.
- Exercise. Engage in more physical activities.
- Lose Weight. Keep a healthy weight to reduce the likelihood of heart diseases and diabetes.
- Quit smoking. It increases the level of androgens and can cause heart diseases.
How do I know if I have PCOS?
If you have any of the usual PCOS symptoms, such as irregular periods, acne, or weight gain, this could be a sign of PCOS. The best method to determine if you have PCOS is to seek diagnosis, either professionally or using a few tools to determine if you should seek help from a medical professional.
For a professional diagnosis, your doctor will begin by discussing your medical history, including your menstrual cycle and weight gain. Checking for acne, insulin resistance, and excessive hair growth will be part of a physical exam.
Your doctor may also suggest:
- A pelvic exam: Your doctor will closely inspect your reproductive organs and manually check for masses, growths, or other abnormalities.
- Blood test: You may have your blood tested to determine your hormone levels. Testing can help to rule out menstrual abnormalities or androgen excess that may mimic PCOS. You may require additional blood tests to assess your sugar tolerance, cholesterol levels, and triglyceride levels.
- Ultrasound: The doctor will check the condition of your ovaries and the thickness of your uterine lining. An ultrasound of the vaginal canal occurs using a transvaginal ultrasonic transducer. Transducers emit sound waves that translate into images on a computer screen.
If your PCOS diagnosis is positive, your doctor may recommend more tests such as:
- Regularly check blood pressure, glucose tolerance, cholesterol, and triglycerides.
- Testing for depression and anxiety
- Sleep apnea screening
Self-diagnosis of PCOS typically involves taking note of your symptoms and seeing how they change over time. There is a ton of misinformation on the internet, so be careful that you are only trusting proven sources. That said, there are several online tools that can help you get a more accurate scientific diagnosis of PCOS beyond the guess work of monitoring symptoms.
How to test for PCOS online
There are several ways to test for PCOS online without going in to see your primary care physician. One of the quickest and easiest ways is to avail yourself of the many online PCOS tests – here are the three best PCOS testing methods available on the internet:
1. Online quizzes for PCOS diagnosis
Online PCOS quizzes are free-response assessments created by medical professionals to help you identify potential red flags. Online PCOS quizzes typically take a few minutes to complete, and the results are emailed to you. However, you should be aware that the results’ correctness depends on your responses, and aren’t necessarily definitive.
One such platform is Parla, their free questionnaire can help you determine if you’re at risk of PCOS by asking you a few questions about your body. Parla can then advise you on the subsequent measures you should take to regain control of your health.
The quiz asks you about your menstrual cycle before delving into the probable PCOS symptoms you may be experiencing, such as increased hair growth, acne, and weight gain. Admittedly, the quiz isn’t too comprehensive and just takes 1 to 2 minutes to complete. The results themselves state that they are not conclusive, but answering yes to any of the three questions about symptoms puts you at a higher risk than usual.
Following the quiz, you will receive a written PCOS guide. You can also order a hormone test for £169 and obtain results in the comfort of your home. However, in order to receive a consultation with a care specialist, you must first purchase a membership, which costs £75/month.
One notable feature of Parla is that it connects you to a community to learn and share with. Parla understands how important it is to understand what is going on with your body, seek reliable help, and take care of your emotional health. And what better place to gain that support than from a group of individuals who are going through the same thing you are. They believe it is time to have an ongoing, informed discussion about women’s health. And, they are breaking down barriers and dispelling myths by establishing an environment that empowers women as they take control of their health, bodies, and choices.
Some of the upsides of online quizzes for PCOS are:
- ✅ Convenience: Scheduling a doctor’s appointment is not always easy. Booking appointments, waiting for the doctor to see them, driving to their office, waiting for the results, driving home, scheduling another appointment for a follow-up, and again waiting for the results takes a significant amount of time. Online quizzes are handier because they may be accessed from anywhere at any time.
- ✅ Free of cost: Some websites charge a price for their services, but you are not required to change your health care coverage to utilize them. Other services, such as Parla, provide free online PCOS quizzes to assist you in identifying the source of your problem and selecting the best course of action to take.
However, there are some downsides too:
- ❌ Accuracy: The outcome of your online quiz is purely determined by the questions you answer. The better you understand your body and how it works, the more accurately you will answer the questions. Therefore, online PCOS quizzes are not totally reliable because some people have no idea about their bodies or how the system operates. As a result, the outcome may not be dependable. There may be cases where such quizzes indicate you don’t have PCOS when in reality you do, and vice versa. They are a helpful first step, but shouldn’t be taken as medical gospel. Getting a blood test and consulting a doctor is advised as a second step should your online PCOS test results indicate any potential areas of concern.
|Best Online PCOS Quiz||Price||How it works||Accessibility||Website|
£169 if choose to get a hormone test
£75/month membership fee for consultations
|Responding to a structured online questionnaire about your PCOS symptoms.||Anyone with internet access can take the quiz. |
Hormone tests only available in the UK.
2. Virtual consultation for PCOS diagnosis
One step better than a simple online quiz is consulting a skilled medical professional to diagnose PCOS via an online portal – typically video conference or online chat. Except for the physical examination, telemedicine offers practically every service that a traditional office visit can, and virtual assessments are often sufficient to diagnose PCOS. Beyond diagnosis, this option also allows you to consult a doctor about nuanced symptoms, a deeper dive into your medical history to avoid potential complications, and ongoing treatment adjustments.
Alpha (i.e. helloalpha.com) is a relatively young telemedicine company that offers inexpensive, accessible treatment as an alternative to an in-person doctor’s visit. They can help you avoid a trip to the pharmacy for prescriptions, too. Alpha is dedicated to women’s healthcare and offers care for a wide variety of conditions (including PCOS!), with services ranging from skin and hair care to Primary and even Urgent Care.
To get started with Alpha for virtual PCOS care, here’s what you do:
- Log in on their site and answer several questions regarding your symptoms. Over an encrypted network, you’ll also be asked to provide certain background information, such as a photo ID and medical history.
- Your responses are assessed by a licensed medical expert, who will give you a treatment plan within 24 hours (or 8 hours for urgent care). If a lab test or an in-person doctor visit is required for a specific treatment, Alpha will assist you in scheduling an appointment with a local practitioner.
- Prescribed medications will be delivered to your home at no cost. The urgent care option sends same-day medications to your pharmacy for pickup, allowing you to be treated for those urgent problems as soon as possible. Long-term prescriptions are auto-shipped, so you don’t have to remember to renew them or run out.
Alpha may request lab tests to diagnose PCOS, which can be completed at a lab of your choice. They test for:
- Thyroid-stimulating hormone and reflex-free T4
- Follicular stimulating hormone
- Sex hormone-binding globulin
- Total testosterone
- A1c level
What are alpha’s treatment options for PCOS?
- Hormonal Contraceptives: Birth control can help regulate the menstrual cycle and treat other symptoms like excess hair growth and acne.
- Vaniqua 13.9%: A prescription topical cream that can help treat unwanted facial hair in women. It does not remove existing hair, but it does slow new hair growth. Results can be seen as soon as 4-6 weeks.
- Spironolactone and Minoxidil / Finasteride: Prescription topical medication for hair loss on the scalp.
- Metformin: A prescription medication for weight loss, ovulatory dysfunction, infertility, insulin resistance, and diabetes.
A popular alternative is Wisp, which also offers a convenient telemedicine platform. Like Alpha, they provide virtual treatments for many common conditions including PCOS.
Wisp allows users to arrange a same-day one-on-one consultation with a board-certified physician in the US for $30, regardless of insurance status or background. Within three hours, a Wisp provider will examine your symptoms and prescribe any necessary medication to your local pharmacy, which means it will usually be ready for same-day pickup.
Users can choose to receive a $30 one-time consultation or join Wispcare for just $10 per month, which gives them no-wait access to unlimited online medical consultations. In our opinion, this makes Wisp a perfect choice. In general, telehealth services like Wisp offer the following benefits for diagnosing and treating PCOS:
- ✅ Convenience: You will receive the diagnostic consultation in a comfortable setting if you choose this option. You can watch or listen to the consultant’s videos, and if you need assistance, you can always contact them by online chat or email.
- ✅ Accessibility: This option is ideal for people who have physical constraints or do not have access to medical care in their area.
- ✅ Healthcare cost savings: When you require a diagnosis or to speak with a qualified medical specialist, this is the most cost-effective alternative. It can save you time and money compared to going to a local doctor’s office for a physical checkup.
Potential downsides of virtual doctor consultations (although very unlikely) for PCOS diagnosis are:
- ❌ Cost: Even though the price of a virtual consultation is relatively low, it’s still more expensive than a free online test, especially when you consider the expense is likely to come out of pocket. Wisp only costs $30 per session, although for many, this still may be unaffordable.
- ❌ Privacy: A potential problem is the lack of privacy when accessing medical care online. There’s always a risk of medical information getting hacked or falling into the wrong hands. Alpha and Wisp take data security, privacy, and HIPAA compliance very seriously, so this shouldn’t be too big of a concern, however.
|Best Online Telemedicine Services for PCOS||Price||Benefits||Available in||Website|
|$99 yearly membership (or $35 every 3 months on quarterly plan) with $0 online visits for up to 24 visits per year|
$30 single visit (if not part of the yearly membership)
$10 online visit for prescription treatments (with free shipping)
|Accepts health insurance for medication|
Unlimited Messaging with Doctors
Free Shipping for Prescriptions
Same-day pickup for urgent medications
FDA-approved medication prescriptions
|$30 for one-time consultation; |
$10/month for unlimited consultations (individual prescription prices may vary)
|Free first month of meds|
FSA and HSA cards accepted
Can request emergency doses online
Same-day delivery of meds
Check out our review of Alpha, as well as our review of Wisp to learn more about each service in-depth! Other brands, like LabCorp OnDemand, offer fertility test packages that assess a woman’s ability to conceive by measuring the hormones that play a vital reproduction of eggs, which can also indicate conditions like PCOS.
3. At-home PCOS testing kits
Want an even more hands-on approach? You can now order a kit and test yourself for PCOS. At-home PCOS testing is far more accurate than online quizzes, but unlike telemedicine services, it allows you to collect more details without involving a doctor.
Once your kit arrives in the mail, all you have to do is take a quick blood sample via finger prick, send it back, and wait for a few days to see your results. Moreover, the test kit provides ample guidance to walk you through the process of sample collection – which is painless by the way! – making the process as simple as humanly possible.
It should be noted that PCOS cannot be medically diagnosed based on symptoms alone. PCOS is a complex endocrine condition requiring blood analysis to determine hormone levels. Hormone levels are measured for two reasons. First, it is important to rule out any other issues that could be causing symptoms. Second, when combined with an ultrasound and personal and family histories, blood work assists your doctor in confirming that you have PCOS.
At-home testing kits are not new, but they really weren’t widely adopted until firms like LetsGetChecked made them extremely simple and painless. At least when compared to traditional in-person lab tests from your doctor, which require your doctor to pre-or6der and specify the hormones you want to be examined, all for $800 to $1500 for a full panel.
LetsGetChecked’s PCOS test kit, by contrast, only costs $119 and checks the following hormone levels:
- Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG)
- Free Androgen Index (FAI)
- Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH)
- Luteinizing Hormone (LH)
- Saliva Cortisol
How are these biomarkers used to detect PCOS?
Overall testosterone refers to the total amount of testosterone in your body, including free testosterone. This ranges from 6.0 to 86 ng/dl. The quantity of testosterone that is unbound and active in your body is referred to as free testosterone. Normally this quantity typically fluctuates between 0.7 and 3.6 pg/ml. Women with PCOS frequently have elevated levels of both total and free testosterone. Furthermore, even a minor rise in testosterone in a woman’s body might inhibit normal menstruation and ovulation.
Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG) is a protein that transports testosterone and various other hormones through the bloodstream. In PCOS, your levels may be lowered, resulting in an overabundance of testosterone in the body. And as we just mentioned, abnormal testosterone levels can throw a wrench in your menstrual and ovulation cycles.
The Free Androgen Index (FAI) is a ratio that compares your overall quantity of testosterone to your SHBG levels. If your levels are high, it may indicate that the amount of free testosterone available for utilization in your body is higher than normal, which might indicate PCOS.
While many women with PCOS have LH and FSH levels in the 5-20 mlU/ml range, their LH level is frequently two or three times that of the FSH level. Women with PCOS, for example, often have an LH level of around 18 mlU/ml and an FSH level of about 6 mlU/ml. This is described as a high LH to FSH ratio, or a 3:1 ratio. This alteration in the LH/FSH ratio is enough to cause ovulation to be disrupted. While this was once thought to be a significant part in identifying PCOS, it is now seen to be less beneficial in diagnosing PCOS, but it is still valuable when looking at the big picture.
Review of LetsGetChecked PCOS test
LetsGetChecked is one of the leaders in the field of at-home testing in general. The company’s PCOS testing method includes the saliva sample and an at-home finger-prick approach. Moreover, they work with authorized labs, and give you access to nurses and doctors, at no additional cost, to consult with if you have any questions about your results.
FYI, LetsGetChecked offers at-home tests for a lot more than just PCOS. Find out how it stacks up against some other competing at-home fertility testing kit services in our comprehensive review.
The benefits of LetsGetChecked’s at-home PCOS test include:
- ✅ Convenience: You can get tested at home on your schedule without having to make an appointment, go to a medical office, or even leave your house.
- ✅ Wider availability: At-home testing for PCOS allows rural and other underserved populations who otherwise would not be able to get tested, to get tested and diagnosed.
- ✅ Patient empowerment: Patients are getting more informed about their health. As a result, knowing and understanding your body is critical, as are healthy habits. Knowing and trusting your body will make you more accountable for your actions. At-home PCOS tests can help you quantify your health and thus build confidence in a way that online quizzes can’t.
- ✅ Accuracy: At-home PCOS tests require blood and saliva samples that are analyzed in a CLIA-certified lab. Naturally these are much more in-depth and reliable than quizzes or even virtual meetings with licensed healthcare professionals.
While at-home PCOS testing has a lot of promise, there are a couple potential drawbacks:
- ❌ Potential test error: Sample collection is essential to obtain reliable test results. There is a higher risk of error when collecting samples at home rather than at a medical office by a trained health care provider. Should your sample be invalid, however, you can merely order another test and try again.
- ❌ More expensive: At-home testing kits may be more expensive than other solutions on this list, but the accuracy of the results outweighs the expense. Plus, your time is valuable, and the ability of at-home tests to reduce unnecessary back and forth with your doctor cannot be underestimated.
|At-home PCOS test||Price||How it works||Available in||Website|
|Activate your test and collect your sample in the morning. Return your sample on the same day, using the prepaid shipping label provided.|
Once your sample arrives in the laboratory, confidential results will be available from your secure online account within 2 to 5 days.
The dedicated team of nurses available 24/7 will call you to explain your results.
What’s the most accurate PCOS test online?
When it comes to testing for polycystic ovary syndrome, the accuracy of at-home test kits that analyze your blood and saliva painlessly is unrivaled compared to simple online quizzes and virtual calls with medical professionals – both of which are highly subjective and not supported by official lab reports.
LetsGetChecked makes the process pretty effortless. Following the purchase of your test, you’ll get a sample collection kit delivered to your home. With simple instructions and a video demo, it’s dead simple to collect your sample in the comfort of your own home.
The results are reliable, and usually become available online between 2 and 5 business days after the samples arrive at the lab. Your sample is delivered to one of their CLIA-certified and ISO-accredited laboratories for comprehensive analysis by clinical professionals. These are the same laboratories that primary care physicians and hospitals use.
Finally, you will receive your results in a secure online dashboard, along with useful factsheets from their clinical experts.
In addition, your health record will be evaluated by a clinician, and additional assistance is available on demand. Their nursing staff may contact you at no additional cost to discuss your results and answer your questions!
How much does an at-home PCOS test cost?
LetsGetChecked charges $119 for its at-home PCOS test. (Or $83 with code FINVSFIN30 for 30% off!) This may seem exorbitant when compared to free (but also somewhat gimmicky) online quizzes. It’s also somewhat pricey compared to consulting an expert via telemedicine. Nonetheless, the accuracy of the at-home blood sample test makes it worth every penny, and thus saves you big in the long run versus all the co-pays when seeing a doctor and getting tested in person.
The table below highlights the key differences between three online PCOS testing methods we’ve covered so far: quizzes vs an at-home PCOS test kit vs virtual telemedicine consultation.
|Comparing Online PCOS Testing Method||How it Works||Price||Accuracy||Best For…||Website|
|Online PCOS quiz via Parla||Self-assessment via online quiz that delivers results immediately.||Free||If you don’t understand your body well enough, you’ll get inconclusive and inconsistent results.||Women who are merely curious and are not actively displaying any of the PCOS symptoms||Try Parla|
|Virtual telehealth consult for PCOS||Connect with a physician virtually to discuss your symptoms and get a diagnosis.|
$30 for one-time consultation; $10/month for unlimited consultations
|Worth consulting, however due to the difficulty of detecting PCOS without lab tests, a healthcare professional may not be able to help you as much.||Women who want to schedule recurring online consultations with a healthcare professional. More suited for the treatment journey rather than detecting PCOS|
|At-home PCOS testing kit||Order a test kit, send back a blood sample (via painless finger prick) and a saliva sample (via mouth swab). Your lab results are available within days.||$119 for the test kit||CLIA-certified and ISO-accredited laboratories provide very reliable and accurate hormone testing.||Women seeking critical hormonal insights to assist their healthcare practitioners in reaching the answers they require by making their interactions easier and more informed||Try LetsGetChecked|
The Verdict: Which online PCOS test is best for you?
So, how should you go about determining whether or not you have PCOS? Making a decision can be difficult with so many (convenient) options, but hopefully we’ve done some of the groundwork for you. There are, of course, many more possibilities than the three we’ve covered, but after considerable research, we believe these are your best options.
Each of the online PCOS test solutions we examined has advantages and disadvantages. That said, the advantages of LetsGetChecked much outweigh those of the others. Why risk getting erroneous results and postponing PCOS diagnosis when you can receive a thorough hormone level test without leaving your house? And the added ability of consulting a medical professional to review your results at no additional costs makes it even the overall best choice for PCOS tests available online.
Honestly, we couldn’t recommend LetsGetChecked’s at-home PCOS test more. In our mind, it’s the clear winner in terms of convenience and accuracy. Get started today and enjoy 30% off, bringing your total cost to just $83.
If you prefer to consult a medical professional from the start, we recommend Wisp. It’s less expensive than Alpha, and ultimately we’ve had better experiences getting care from their platform overall, PCOS-related or otherwise.