Is PCOS linked to endometriosis?

Endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) each affect up to 10% of people in the UK and can have a significant impact on the health, fertility and quality of life of those affected.

Due to the similarities between conditions both causing menstrual problems and difficulty in getting pregnant, it is sometimes assumed the two conditions may be linked.

However, to date, PCOS and endometriosis are not considered to be definitively related to one another, although it is possible to have both conditions at the same time. Whilst some similarities, previously highlighted, do occur, the causes, symptoms and treatments do differ. Below we explore the differences between the two conditions.

PCOS vs Endometriosis

What is PCOS?

PCOS is a common condition that affects one’s ovaries work. The three main characteristics of PCOS, two of which are required for diagnosis, include irregular periods, excess androgens (e.g. testosterone), and polycystic ovarian morphology (cysts on the ovaries). PCOS is most likely to be present in people who are in the late teens to early years of their twenties.

What is endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a condition where tissue that is similar to the lining of the womb, can begin to grow in other places including the ovaries and fallopian tubes. It is a long-term condition that can affect people of any age.

Symptoms of PCOS vs Symptoms of Endometriosis

In both conditions, the symptoms will vary both in how they display in an individual as well as the severity of the symptom.

Symptoms of PCOS

Symptoms of PCOS can include irregular or no periods, difficulty getting pregnant, excessive hair growth on the body and face, weight gain, thinning hair and loss from the head and oily skin/acne. Generally, PCOS shouldn’t cause pain.

Symptoms of Endometriosis

Symptoms of endometriosis can include pain in your lower tummy/back which can be heightened during your period, pain during or after sex, pain when going to the toilet during your period, feeling nauseous or suffering with constipation, diarrhoea and difficulty getting pregnant.

When to see a health professional

Both conditions can have a big impact on your life, however, there are treatments for both that can help to manage and ease the symptoms. Therefore, if you’re concerned you may be suffering from either and/or both conditions it’s important to visit a health professional as soon as possible for a diagnosis and to begin to explore treatments.

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