When it comes to figuring out if a woman has too much male hormone, which is associated with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a leading cause of infertility, doctors have generally relied on a scoring system looking at 11 areas of excessive hair growth on a woman’s body, including the abdomen, chin, lip, chest, and back.
Talk about a diagnosis that’s no fun to get (not that many are). Thankfully, a new study may help take some of the sting out of such an invasive and often embarrassing way to get an accurate diagnosis: A recent study in the journal Fertility and Sterility looked at nearly 2,000 women who had symptoms of too much male hormone and reported that when doctors just looked at a couple of key areas on women’s body (rather than the full 11) they still got a reliable indicator of hirsutism, or excess hair growth in women. According to the researchers, “the single best body area predictor of total body hirsutism was the lower abdomen.” The test was even more reliable when the researchers looked at the whole abdomen and either a woman’s chin or upper thigh. Since inspecting the chin is less invasive than the thigh (and was just as reliable a predictor), they concluded it was a better site, and that examining the abdomen and chin was a good way to tell if a woman had hirsuitism.
Since fertility treatment itself is, of course, quite invasive (it’s hard to imagine anything being more invasive, in many ways), any tool that helps doctors get the information they need to make a good diagnosis – and unearth a possible cause of infertility, like PCOS – seems to us a good idea.