Endometriosis VS PCOS- What’s The Difference

Overview

Endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) are conditions that can affect women in their childbearing years. A cause of menstrual problems, both can lead to heavy bleeding and also make getting pregnant difficult.

Though can you get pregnant Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and endometriosis are two different diagnoses, they are both hard to diagnose and affect about 5-10% of women in their reproductive years.

The symptoms for both are different and involve different hormonal issues. Endometriosis genetic is associated with excess estrogen, a female hormone whereas excess androgens or male hormones are the reason behind PCOS.

 

Endometriosis vs PCOS- Symptoms

Endometriosis and PCOS cause different symptoms and need different treatments

Symptoms of PCOS

PCOS causes irregular menstrual periods due to anovulation (not ovulating every month) and heightened levels of male hormones (androgens).

Women with PCOS have a higher risk of developing diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea, and infertility.

Irregular or missing periods are common PCOS symptoms. Other symptoms include excessive hair growth, weight gain, thinning of hair on the head, oily or acne-prone skin.

Read more:- What is Endometriosis and What are its types?

Symptoms of Endometriosis

Endometriosis is a disease that causes the endometrium or lining of the uterus to grow outside the uterus. The endometrial tissue growing outside the uterus frequently gets trapped and is not able to leave the body by way of a period.

Endometriosis often results in very painful periods for women and many times goes undetected. It can cause difficulties in getting and sometimes staying pregnant.

Pain during sex, pain with urination or bowel movements during the period, and other gastrointestinal issues can also be symptomatic of this disease.

Some common symptoms like heavy bleeding and difficulty in getting pregnant are shared by both Endometriosis and PCOS patients.

However, most of the symptoms for both conditions are different, and in some cases, these conditions may exist without any symptoms too or misdiagnosis.

 

Causes of Endometriosis vs. PCOS

Though the exact causes of endometriosis and PCOS are not known, there are some possible explanations identified by the researchers.

Also, some factors can indicate a higher risk of developing one or both conditions.

Causes of Endometriosis

  • Retrograde menstruation: The uterine endometrial tissue flowing back into the fallopian tube or other areas in the abdominal cavity and pelvic region builds up, but cannot flow out of the body as in a normal menstrual cycle.
  • Immune system problems: Retrograde menstruation affects almost all women who menstruate, it is normally managed by the immune system. However, a compromised immune system may make it difficult for the body to identify and destroy endometrial tissue outside of the uterus.
  • Coelomic metaplasia: It is a condition where some cells may turn into endometrial cells causing endometriosis in areas far from the uterus.
  • Endometrial cell transport: The lymphatic system or blood vessels may transport endometrial cells outside the uterus.
  • Post-surgery implantation: Endometrial cells might implant themselves at the surgical site, after some surgeries, like a hysterectomy,

 

Causes of PCOS

  • Hormonal imbalance: PCOS may be caused by high levels of certain hormones, like testosterone.
  • Insulin resistance: High insulin levels can make the ovaries produce more male hormones.
  • Inflammation: High levels of male hormones can also cause excess inflammation.
  • Transformation of embryonic cells: The cells that develop at the earliest stages of life are embryonic cells and they may transform into endometrial cells during puberty due to an excess of estrogen in one’s system.
  • Hereditary – PCOS can be correlated to certain genes. However, all-around physical activity and a healthy diet can help in dealing with PCOS.

Can one have endometriosis and PCOS together?

Yes, one can have endometriosis and PCOS at the same time. Women with PCOS may have more chances to be diagnosed with endometriosis.

Moreover, there is a strong connection between endometriosis and PCOS with pelvic pain and trouble getting pregnant.

Read More: Process Of Ovarian Stimulation For IVF

Diagnosing Endometriosis vs. PCOS

The doctors generally use several tests including Ultrasound, imaging, MRI, and various blood tests to determine if one has endometriosis, PCOS, or both.

Laparoscopy: A small incision is created by the surgeon to check for abnormal tissue growth is done for patients with Endometriosis.

 

Effects on Fertility

Infertility can be caused by both

PCOS and endometriosis, separately and together. The hormonal issues & physical pain are mostly ignored by women of reproductive age until they are trying to conceive.

PCOS mainly causes hormonal effects on fertility but one may have physical polycystic ovaries.

Endometriosis, on the other hand, causes mainly physical obstruction and fertility treatments can help one to get pregnant but if the removal of the endometrial tissue outside the uterus is not addressed, it may cause miscarriage.

Treatment

Both conditions are treated with various forms of medication and surgery.

Treatment for PCOS

The patient’s PCOS are put on certain medications to regulate hormones and to ensure the regularity of periods so that they do not have a build-up of endometrial tissue in their uterus.

If one is not trying to conceive presently, the treatment may include hormone and insulin level regulating medications to get the body in better working order.

A high follicle count in ovaries is common in women with PCOS. So if one wishes to have kids in the future, egg freezing is a very viable option.

However if one is actively trying to conceive with PCOS presently the fertility doctor will prescribe medications to control hormones and time out the ovulation so that the chances of natural conception can be increased.

However, In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a common and most effective method to get pregnant for patients with PCOS.

 

Treatment for Endometriosis

For the patients diagnosed with endometriosis, the reproductive surgeons will first aim to clear out the endometrial tissue with laparoscopy, depending on its location and severity.

For those not trying to conceive, painful symptoms can be eased through laparoscopic removal of endometriosis, and overall better health of the reproductive system can be ensured.

However one may not be able to get pregnant on their own until endometriosis is cleared out.

The need for fertility treatment is quite common and effective after endometriosis removal if one wishes to conceive and have a healthy baby.

Takeaway

Both Endometriosis and PCOS are common and have different symptoms and lines of treatment. Dr. Shivani Bhutani, an experienced gynecologist, and fertility specialist at Eva Hospital says that both can be treated through medications.

She adds that becoming pregnant and giving birth to a healthy baby is also possible in both conditions, through fertility treatments and IVF, which has a very high success rate for the patients with these problems.

If you experience irregular or painful periods and have trouble conceiving, visit your gynecologist immediately