PCOS and Pregnancy Tests: How to Detect Pregnancy with PCOS

Ovarian cysts are often seen as a common occurrence and rarely cause alarm, as they are often harmless. However, they can cause a variety of symptoms that can be a source of confusion and concern, particularly when it comes to pregnancy and periods. In this blog post, we will explore the possibility of ovarian cysts causing a missed period and a positive pregnancy test result. Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs that form on or within a woman’s ovaries, and they can be caused by many different factors. Although in some cases they may go unnoticed, the presence of a cyst can be felt as a swelling in the abdomen or pain near the pelvis. In some cases, a cyst may also cause a change in menstrual cycle and lead to a missed period. Additionally, cysts can also cause a hormonal imbalance which can lead to a false positive on a pregnancy test. While it is important to note that ovarian cysts rarely cause serious complications

What about using an ovulation monitor or test strips?

Because ovulation monitors rely on detecting estrogen and LH, two vital hormones that are frequently depressed in people with PCOS, these tests aren’t ideal if you have this condition. Inaccurate readings from an ovulation monitor could result in a higher number of “high fertility” days being reported.

Most early pregnancy symptoms, with the exception of a missed period or morning sickness, are frustratingly similar to typical signs of an upcoming period. These include common symptoms such as:

  • increased fatigue
  • sore or tender breasts
  • abdominal bloating
  • headaches
  • mood swings
  • lower back pain
  • However, if you routinely have an irregular menstrual cycle due to PCOS, you might not get those important indicator signals, or you might think you’re just having symptoms of your condition or that you’re getting your period.

    Here are a couple of things to remember:

  • Not getting those symptoms doesn’t mean that you aren’t pregnant.
  • If you’ve had unprotected sex 2 to 3 weeks (or more) ago and haven’t had a period, it may be worth taking a test — even if you haven’t had a period in months and aren’t necessarily expecting one.
  • Pregnancy tests that claim on the front of the box that they can detect pregnancy 6 days before your missed period are generally advised against use by women with PCOS as it is common for such tests to produce false negative results.

    Any person can experience a false positive on a pregnancy test, though it’s less frequent than a false negative. However, if you develop one of these uncommon conditions, PCOS is not to blame.

    Pregnancy tests specifically use the presence of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), also known as the “pregnancy hormone,” to determine whether or not you are expecting a child. And that’s not a hormone that’s directly affected by PCOS.

    However, you might have detectable hCG (from the medication) if you’re receiving fertility treatments that call for taking specific medications, which could result in a false-positive pregnancy test result. Other common causes of a false positive include:

  • using an expired pregnancy test
  • not following the instructions correctly
  • waiting too long to review the results on a test
  • There’s one other possibility that we don’t like to talk about: If you have PCOS, your risk of early miscarriage is higher. So it’s possible to initially test positive for pregnancy and then experience a negative result with a later test.

    False negatives are definitely possible because you have PCOS, which causes irregular hormone levels.

    Even though you’ve conceived, you might test for pregnancy soon after missing a period and receive a negative result. In fact, some PCOS sufferers may not realize they are pregnant until several weeks have passed since conception.

    So again, avoid those early pregnancy tests. To prevent false positives or negatives, you might even want to test well after your anticipated period.

    If becoming pregnant is your goal, discuss your options with your doctor as there are ways to improve your chances of becoming pregnant. These include:

  • Hormonal birth control methods (the pill, shot, intrauterine device, or vaginal ring) to better regulate your menstrual cycle before trying to conceive.
  • Anti-androgen medications to block the impact of increased androgen levels.
  • Metformin, a type 2 diabetes drug that can reduce androgen levels and secondary PCOS symptoms, such as facial hair growth and acne.
  • Weight loss. If you’re currently carrying extra weight, healthy eating and consistent physical exercise can help to regulate your menstrual cycle. (These 13 tips may help.)
  • Ovulation medications — such as clomiphene — to help encourage ovulation.
  • In vitro fertilization (IVF). If medication and lifestyle changes don’t work, IVF is an option in which your eggs are retrieved and fertilized outside your body. A resulting embryo is then placed directly in your uterus.
  • Surgery. If none of the above have worked, a surgery that removes the outer shell of your ovaries (known as the cortex) that is often thicker in women with PCOS can be performed to help restore ovulation. But this option usually only works for 6 to 8 months.
  • It’s no secret that PCOS can make it more difficult to get pregnant because you lack the consistency of a predictable menstrual cycle to set your timeline. But that doesn’t mean you should give up trying to get pregnant or that it’s impossible.

    Concentrate on testing for a positive outcome well after the anticipated start of your period has passed. As opposed to relying on early pre-period testing methods, which can produce inaccurate results for women with PCOS, you’ll be more likely to get an accurate result.

    Pregnancy should always be confirmed by a doctor’s ordered blood test. Additionally, throughout your pregnancy, work with an OB-GYN who is familiar with PCOS; this will give you peace of mind.

    Last medically reviewed on April 29, 2020

    How do pregnancy tests work?

    Understanding the operation of a pregnancy test kit aids in understanding the accuracy and potential for false-positive or false-negative pregnancy test results.

    Home pregnancy tests detect a hormone called Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG), also known as the pregnancy hormone. hCG ensures progesterone production continues to maintain your uterine lining during pregnancy. Cells that will later form your placenta immediately begin releasing this hormone after the fertilized egg implants in your uterine lining.

    A blood test can detect any level of hCG, but the majority of at-home urine tests have a cutoff of 20–25 mIU/mL. The First Response Early Result home test, however, is the most accurate and can identify levels as low as 5. 5 mIU/mL. In any case, these levels are typically not attained for 3 to 5 days following implantation. For the most accurate results, take a pregnancy test at the appropriate time.

    However, ovarian cysts can occasionally twist or rupture. This can cause serious symptoms. Get regular pelvic exams and be aware of the symptoms that could indicate a serious issue in order to safeguard your health.

    Functional cysts are usually harmless. Rarely do they hurt, and frequently, they go away on their own after two to three menstrual cycles.

    Ovarian cysts are common. You typically experience little to no discomfort, and the cysts are not harmful. Most cysts go away without treatment within a few months.

    Sometimes, less common types of cysts that are discovered by a doctor during a pelvic exam develop. After menopause, solid ovarian cysts may turn cancerous (malignant). That’s why it’s important to have regular pelvic exams.

    Your menstrual cycle causes the majority of ovarian cysts to develop. These are called functional cysts. Other types of cysts are much less common.


    Can early pregnancy be mistaken for ovarian cyst?

    Cysts may be mistaken for an early pregnancy or twin. Detailed breeding history and thorough scanning technique is vital to avoid potentially costly mistakes.

    Can ovarian cyst affect HCG levels?

    Conclusion: Mature ovarian cystic teratomas have rarely been reported to secrete HCG. They can be an infrequent source of HCG production and may lead to emergency surgery to treat a suspected extra-uterine pregnancy.

    Can an ovarian cyst make your period late?

    Ovarian cysts can also lead to problems with the menstrual cycle, such as heavy or irregular periods, or spotting (abnormal vaginal bleeding between periods). Menstrual cycle problems occur if the cyst produces sex hormones that cause the lining of the womb to grow more.

    This You Should Know about Cyst and Pregnancy

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