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Gynaecologic Tests: Blood

The table below contains information on some blood tests used in the evaluation and diagnosis of disorders of the female reproductive system as well as during pregnancy. For information on other types of test click here .

Laboratory Tests On Blood Samples
All of the following tests are done on a sample of blood taken from a vein, usually in the arm.
Test Use
Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) Can help identify ectopic pregnancy or threatened abortion . May also be used to monitor women with rare forms of ovarian cancer or those with cancerous changes in the placenta (gestational trophoblastic disease).
Complete blood count (CBC) Routinely used to help identify causes of pelvic pain, such as ectopic pregnancy or vaginal bleeding.
Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) To help identify cause of pelvic pain and to rule out infection.
Venereal Disease Research laboratory (VDRL) test To help identify cause of pelvic pain, especially when syphilis is suspected. Positive result indicates syphilis. Negative result rules it out or indicates that it has been adequately treated. Some false-positive results occur in people with other infectious diseases.
Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) To diagnose precocious puberty , menopausal problems , infertility, menstrual difficulties , and gonadal malfunctions (testes/ovaries), all of which cause excessive levels of these hormones. Low levels of these hormones indicate hypothalamic and pituitary disorders .
Estradiol To identify causes of infertility , menstrual irregularity , or precocious puberty . Elevated levels indicate possible disorders. Oral contraceptives lower estradiol levels.
Thyroid function tests:
Thyroid-stimulating hormone
(TSH), T 3 , and T 4
To identify causes of infertility , abnormal bleeding, or galactorrhea (lactation at the wrong time).
Prolactin To diagnose galactorrhea , amenorrhoea , or infertility . High levels occur normally during pregnancy, breastfeeding, and after a hysterectomy. Otherwise, high levels indicate a prolactin-secreting tumour. Many drugs, including oestrogens and antihypertensives, can cause elevated levels.
Testosterone Used to determine cause of hirsutism (excessive facial and body hair), lack of ovulation, or amenorrhoea. Abnormally high levels in women may indicate a malfunction of the ovaries.
(DHEA) and DHEA-sulfate
To determine cause of hirsutism, amenorrhoea., or infertility. Abnormally high levels may indicate an adrenal gland disorder.
Lupus anticoagulant To determine cause of recurrent miscarriage . High levels indicate an abnormal factor in the blood that causes clotting complications.
Chromosomal analysis To identify precocious puberty, congenital anomalies, recurrent miscarriages, amenorrhoea., or infertility. Chromosomal defects may explain the problems that prompted the test.
Rapid plasma reagin (RPR) test To diagnose syphilis , which produces a positive test result.
Fluorescent treponemal antibody absorption (FTA-ABS) test To confirm syphilis , especially in early stages. Determines whether positive result from nontreponemal antigen tests (such as VDRL ) is false-positive or is indeed an indicative of syphilis.
Micromagglutination, treponema pallidum (MHA-TP) To confirm syphilis .
CA 125 To diagnose, monitor progression of, and check for recurrence of ovarian cancer . Abnormally high level is commonly associated with ovarian cancer, but levels may be falsely elevated in many gynaecological disorders such as endometriosis , benign ovarian cysts, first trimester of pregnancy, and pelvic inflammatory disease . It is also elevated in 70% of people with cirrhosis, 60% of people with pancreatic cancer, and 20% to 25% of all other malignancies.
Lipid-associated sialic acid (LSA, LASA-P) in plasma To diagnose, monitor progression of, and check for recurrence of ovarian cancer . High levels are associated with malignancies and inflammatory conditions. This non-specific test may be elevated in a variety of chronic, benign medical conditions.
NB/70K To diagnose, monitor progression of, and check for recurrence of ovarian cancer .
CA 19-9 To diagnose, monitor progression of, and check for recurrence of pancreatic or ovarian cancers .
TAG 72.3 To diagnose, monitor progression of, and check for recurrence of colon or ovarian cancers . May be used along with other tumour markers to distinguish benign ovarian tumours from malignant ones.
Source: The Yale University School of Medicine Patient's Guide to Medical Tests, Barry L. Zaret M.D., Senior Editor, published by Houghton Mifflin. Online:

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Contact Last modified: Oct 20 2004