PCOS vs Endometriosis: Distinguishing the Disparities

endometriosis vs pcos

In women of childbearing age, endometriosis and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) are two common gynecological diseases that can happen. Even though they have some things in common, they are two distinct conditions with different symptoms and ways of treating them. See the differences and similarities between endometriosis and PCOS, including their causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options.

What is Endometriosis?

Endometriosis is an illness in which tissue that looks like the lining of the uterus grows outside of the corpus. Ovaries, fallopian tubes, and other organs nearby have this tissue. Unlike the normal lining of the uterus that sheds during periods, this tissue has no way to leave the body. This could lead to pain, swelling, and the growth of scar tissue. It’s a long-lasting condition that can affect different parts of life, including periods, fertility, and overall well-being.

What is PCOS?

People who have ovaries can have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, which is a hormonal disease. It can lead to periods that come and go, cysts on the ovaries, and high amounts of androgens, which are male hormones.

Endometriosis vs. PCOS: The Causes

Endometriosis and PCOS have different causes. Here’s a simpler look at them:


The cause of endometriosis isn’t clear, but there are some ideas:

  • Backward Period Flow: During periods, some blood might go backward into the pelvis instead of leaving the body. This blood could carry cells that stick to organs and grow into endometriosis.
  • Cell Transformation: Hormones could change cells in the body into ones like the lining of the uterus, leading to endometriosis.
  • Surgery: After surgeries like hysterectomy, cells like those in the uterus lining might attach to scars and turn into endometriosis.
  • Immune System: A problem with the immune system might let endometrial-like tissue grow outside the uterus.
  • Hormones: Estrogen, a hormone, might help endometrial tissue grow.


The cause of PCOS is also not completely known, but a few things may play a role:

  • Hormones: Women with PCOS have more male hormones than usual. This can affect how eggs develop and are released during ovulation.
  • Insulin: Many women with PCOS have insulin resistance, where cells don’t respond well to insulin. This might cause the ovaries to produce more androgens.
  • Genes: PCOS often runs in families, so genes might be a factor.
  • Inflammation: Some research suggests that women with PCOS might have low-grade inflammation, which could make the ovaries produce more androgens.
  • Excess Insulin: Insulin helps turn food into energy. Your body may make too much insulin if you have insulin resistance. This can cause more androgens to be made.

Both conditions are complex, and their causes aren’t fully understood. Understanding these causes is important for treating and managing the conditions.

PCOS vs. Endometriosis: The Symptoms

PCOS and endometriosis have different symptoms. Let’s break them down:

PCOS Symptoms

  • Irregular Periods: PCOS can cause women to have less than nine periods a year or periods that come too often.
  • Heavy Bleeding: Your periods might be heavier than normal.
  • Hair Growth: Too much hair on the chest, back, face, or legs.
  • Acne: Issues with the skin, like acne on the chest, upper back, and face.
  • Weight Gain: Having trouble losing weight or adding weight quickly.
  • Darkening of the Skin: There are dark spots on the skin, mainly around the breasts, hips, and neck.
  • Headaches: Frequent headaches.
  • Sleep Problems: Trouble sleeping or sleep apnea.
  • Mood Changes: Mood changes, sadness, or stress.
  • Infertility: Not able to get pregnant because of irregular ovulation.

Endometriosis Symptoms

  • Pelvic Pain: Severe menstrual cramps that can get worse over time.
  • Painful Periods: It hurts before and during your period.
  • Painful Intercourse: Having pain during or after sex.
  • Pain with Bowel Movements or Urination: Especially when you have periods.
  • Excessive Bleeding: You may have heavy periods or bleed between periods.
  • Infertility: Difficulty getting pregnant.
  • Fatigue: Feeling tired or lacking energy.
  • Bowel or Bladder Symptoms: Like diarrhea, constipation, or gas, especially when your period is coming on.
  • Other Symptoms: Some women may also experience nausea, vomiting, or leg pain.

While both PCOS and endometriosis can cause pelvic pain and infertility, they have different symptoms and require different treatments. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

PCOS vs. Endometriosis: Diagnosis & Treatments

PCOS and endometriosis are two distinct conditions that require different approaches for diagnosis and treatment. Let’s delve into the details:


PCOS Diagnosis:

  • Medical History and Symptoms: The healthcare provider will ask about your menstrual cycles, weight changes, and other symptoms
  • Physical Exam: A physical to look for signs of PCOS, like acne or hair growth that is too much.
  • Blood Tests: To find out how much testosterone, insulin, and other hormones are in the body.
  • Pelvic Exam: To see if the ovaries or any other pelvic parts are faulty.
  • Ultrasound: If you have PCOS, you should look for cysts on your ovaries.

Endometriosis Diagnosis:

  • Medical History and Symptoms: A medical professional will inquire about your signs and symptoms, such as pelvic pain and the timing of your periods.
  • Pelvic Exam: To look for lumps or scars that don’t look right.
  • Ultrasound: To find cysts or other signs of endometriosis, an ultrasound may be used.
  • Laparoscopy: This is a surgery in which a thin tube with a camera is inserted into the belly to examine the pelvic organs. It is the only way to determine whether you have endometriosis.


PCOS Treatment:

  • Lifestyle Changes: Such as food, exercise, and, if necessary, losing weight.
  • Medications: To keep your periods regular, lower your insulin levels or your androgen levels.
  • Fertility Treatments: For people who want to get pregnant.
  • Surgery: Surgery might be suggested to get rid of ovary cysts or help with getting pregnant.

Endometriosis Treatment:

  • Pain Medication: Over-the-counter or prescription pain relievers.
  • Hormone Therapy: To assist in slowing down the growth of uterine tissue.
  • Surgery: Laparoscopic surgery to remove endometrial tissue (laparoscopic excision) or to remove the uterus and possibly the ovaries (hysterectomy).
  • Fertility Treatment: For those having trouble getting pregnant.

While both PCOS and endometriosis can be challenging to diagnose and treat, working closely with a healthcare provider can help manage symptoms and improve quality of life. It is important to see a doctor if you think you have either condition so that you can get a correct diagnosis and treatment.

Endometriosis and PCOS: Key Differences

  • Endometriosis involves tissue growing outside the uterus, while PCOS involves hormonal imbalances and ovarian cysts.
  • Endometriosis often causes severe period pain, while PCOS is more known for irregular periods.
  • Endometriosis is diagnosed through surgery, while PCOS is diagnosed based on symptoms and tests.

Can you have PCOS and Endometriosis?

Yes, it is possible to have both PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) and endometriosis. While these are two separate conditions with distinct characteristics, they can coexist in the same individual. However, having both conditions can make diagnosis and management more complex.

Tips to Avoid Having PCOS and Endometriosis

While the exact causes of PCOS and endometriosis are not fully understood, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk or manage symptoms potentially:

  • Maintain a Healthy Weight: Obesity or being overweight can increase the risk of developing PCOS and may worsen symptoms of endometriosis. To maintain a healthy weight, try to eat a balanced meal and work out regularly.
  • Eat a Balanced Diet: Eat a lot of fruits, veggies, whole grains, and lean proteins. Do not eat too many prepared foods, sugars, or fats that are bad for you.
  • Stay Active: Regular physical activity can help balance hormones and manage weight, lowering the risk of developing PCOS and improving endometriosis symptoms.
  • Manage Stress: High stress levels might lead to hormonal abnormalities. Try stress-relieving hobbies like yoga, meditation, or deep breathing exercises.
  • Limit Exposure to Environmental Toxins: Some chemicals in the environment, such as dioxins, pesticides, and phthalates, may be linked to hormonal disruptions. Limit exposure where possible.
  • Consult Your Healthcare Provider: If you have concerns about PCOS or endometriosis or if you’re experiencing symptoms, speak with your healthcare provider. They can assist you in maintaining your health and may recommend more testing if necessary.

While these tips may help reduce the risk of developing PCOS or endometriosis, they are not guaranteed to prevent these conditions. Genetics and other components also have an impact. Regular check-ups and open contact with your healthcare practitioner are critical for preserving your general health.

Detect Whether You Have Endometriosis or PCOS

Endometriosis and PCOS are two distinct conditions that impact women’s reproductive health. They have similar symptoms but different causes and treatments. If you are having symptoms, you should consult a healthcare expert for an accurate diagnosis and treatment.


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