What is Polycystic Ovarian Disease (PCOD) panel? 

PCOD is a hormonal disorder that affects women in their reproductive age. It is associated with a group of symptoms including missing or irregular periods, excess facial or body hair (hirsutism) and infertility

Though the exact cause of PCOD is still unknown, genetic factors, high levels of male hormones and insulin - the hormone responsible for controlling blood sugar levels - are considered to be the possible causes. 

A PCOD panel helps diagnose Polycystic ovarian disease by checking the levels of these hormones along with all the hormones involved in their production and release. It includes the following tests— glucose, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA-S), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinising hormone (LH), insulin, total testosterone, thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and prolactin (PRL).

  • DHEA-S: This male sex hormone is found in both men and women. It is produced by the adrenal glands and is converted into oestrogen and testosterone. It is important to the development of secondary sexual characteristics as you hit puberty. However, abnormally high levels of DHEA-S in women may indicate an overactive adrenal gland and lead to excessive body and facial hair, masculine features and menstrual problems.
  • Glucose and insulin: Insulin promotes the storage of sugar in the liver, clearing it out from the blood. About 30%-40% of the women with PCOD experience insulin resistance leading to high glucose levels. To manage this, the pancreas produces more insulin, leading to elevated levels of insulin in the body. Studies suggest that insulin resistance in PCOS leads to increased production of male hormones from the adrenal gland, leading to increased masculine features in women. 
  • FSH: The pituitary gland, a pea-sized gland located at the base of the brain, secretes FSH in both men and women. This hormone is involved in maintaining the normal levels of testosterone and oestrogen in men and women, respectively. It also plays an important role in the sexual development of individuals and aids in the production of sperms in men and eggs in women. FSH levels in males rise at puberty and continue throughout life, whereas, in women, the levels vary at different stages of their menstrual cycle. Therefore, it is a useful tool in diagnosing conditions like PCOD in women.
  • LH: LH is another hormone secreted by the pituitary gland. It is responsible for the development of ovarian follicles in females. LH also plays a vital role in ovulation and, therefore, can be considered an important hormone for the diagnosis of fertility-associated problems like PCOD. 
  • Total testosterone: Though it is primarily a male sex hormone, testosterone is found in both men and women. Total testosterone includes free testosterone in the blood and testosterone bound to proteins. Abnormal levels of testosterone help diagnose conditions related to sexual characteristics such as the development of male characteristics in women.
  • TSH: The anterior pituitary gland secretes TSH as well, which aids in the regulation of thyroid hormones (T3 and T4). Thyroid hormones are important for the metabolic functions, growth and development of the body. As the symptoms of abnormal levels of TSH are similar to PCOD, this test can help in ruling out TSH-related conditions and diagnosing PCOD.
  • PRL: The pituitary gland is responsible for the production of PRL. PRL helps in metabolism, growth and sexual development. It stimulates milk production in lactating mothers and helps in regulating periods in nonpregnant women. 
  1. Why is a PCOD Panel performed?
  2. How do you prepare for a PCOD Panel?
  3. How is a PCOD Panel performed?
  4. PCOD Panel results and normal values

Your doctor may recommend a PCOD panel test if you experience the following symptoms associated with PCOD:

  • Excessive weight gain, especially on the abdomen
  • Oily skin and acne
  • Male characteristics like excessive hair growth on the chest, back and stomach in females
  • Hair loss
  • Dark and thick skin patches on the armpits and under the breasts
  • Difficulty conceiving
  • Extra skin growth in the neck and armpits
  • Abnormal menses like irregular, missed or very light periods

The levels of the hormones in the PCOD panel can help confirm the diagnosis of PCOD.

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Unlike other blood tests, DHEA-S, FSH, LH, testosterone, TSH and PRL test do not require any special preparations. However, you should inform your doctor if you are taking any medicines; herbal, vitamin or natural supplements; or have any underlying condition as these may interfere with test results. The doctor may recommend stopping certain medicines before the test.

Women of childbearing age should inform the doctor about the exact day of the menstrual cycle they are in as LH test is performed on a specific day of the cycle. In addition, a blood sample for PRL test is collected during sleep or in the morning. Fasting may be required in certain cases; therefore, you should always ask your doctor if you are required to fast before the test.

For a glucose test and insulin blood test, your doctor will ask you to fast for at least 7-8 hours before the collection of the blood sample. If a post-meal sample is required, you will be asked to return to the laboratory for blood collection 2 hours after a light lunch. If glucose levels are higher than normal, another test for fasting glucose is performed. If you are on any medicines, inform the doctor and check if you need to discontinue them.

For a PCOD panel, a technician will collect a blood sample from a vein in your arm. Before collecting the sample a tourniquet will be tied around your arm to help locate a vein. A sterile needle will then be inserted into the vein to draw a blood sample. Although no risks are associated with this test, you might feel slight pain during insertion and removal of the needle. To stop bleeding after the test, the technician will press some cotton gauze on the site of injection and apply a bandage. You may have a slight bruise after the test, which will heal rapidly.

The time of collection of the blood sample is based on the test. The levels of natural PRL vary throughout the day; PRL levels increase gradually through the night and are highest in the morning. Therefore, doctors recommend collecting a blood sample for PRL within 3-4 hours after waking up in the morning. Blood sample collection for testosterone and other hormones are also preferably performed in the morning.

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Normal results

The normal levels of hormones in the PCOD panel in women of childbearing age are:

Glucose and insulin:

  • Fasting or preprandial blood glucose level: 80-130 mg/dL
  • Post-meal (2 hours after a meal) glucose level: below 180 mg/dL
  • Free insulin: <17 µU/mL

DHEA-S (based on age):

  • Ages 18-19: 145-395 mcg/dL
  • Ages 20-29: 65-380 mcg/dL
  • Ages 30-39: 45-270 mcg/dL
  • Ages 40-49: 32-240 mcg/dL
  • Ages 50-59: 26-200 mcg/dL


  • During puberty: 0.3-10.0 IU/L
  • During menstruation: Values vary based on the menstrual phase: 4.5-21.5 IU/L


  • Follicular phase of the menstrual cycle: 1.68-15 IU/L
  • Mid-cycle peak: 21.9-56.5 IU/L
  • Luteal phase: 0.61-16.3 IU/L

Testosterone: 15-70 ng/dL

TSH: 0.4-5.5 mU/L


  • Nonpregnant women: <25 ng/mL (25 µg/L)
  • Pregnant women: 80-400 ng/mL (80 to 400 µg/L)

Abnormal results

The following results can indicate PCOD as the underlying cause of symptoms:

  • Abnormally high levels of one or more of the following hormones: glucose, DHEA-S, LH, insulin, testosterone, TSH, and PRL
  • Abnormally low levels of FSH

Disclaimer: All results must be clinically correlated with the patient’s complaints to make a complete and accurate diagnosis. The above information is provided from a purely educational point of view and is in no way a substitute for medical advice by a qualified doctor.

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