Difference between endometriosis and PCOS

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Although not very commonly seen, some women can be diagnosed with both PCOS and endometriosis at the same time.

And one particularly challenging aspect of both these conditions is that the symptoms go overlooked and can take a longer time to diagnose. This makes proper diagnosis an important part of receiving the right treatment. If you are experiencing either of the symptoms or have an overlap of symptoms, speak to your doctor and discuss everything you are experiencing.


Understanding PCOS and endometriosis:

  1. PCOS

PCOS or polycystic ovary syndrome occurs due to the underlying hormonal imbalance especially in the hormone levels of insulin and androgen. It can result in many unexplained symptoms that can go unnoticed for years unless they become obvious. Having PCOS also increases the risk of developing certain health complications such as type 2 diabetes, heart condition and cancer in the long-term.

Symptoms of PCOS:

  1. Irregular periods
  2. Weight gain
  3. Hirsutism
  4. Acne


  1. Endometriosis

Endometriosis is a serious, painful condition where the endometrium (lining of the uterus), abnormally grows outside of the uterus. The endometrium can grow into the ovaries, fallopian tube and outer surface of the uterus.

Symptoms of endometriosis:

  1. Stomach cramps
  2. Painful periods
  3. Pain during sex
  4. Painful bowel movements

While there are plenty of differences in the symptoms and both these conditions will affect your reproductive system in different ways — there are certain overlaps between the symptoms of PCOS and endometriosis which can sometimes make it feel confusing. Both these conditions can affect your period cycle, trigger mood fluctuations, and cause issues in fertility.

Overlapping symptoms between PCOS and endometriosis:

  1. Heavy periods
  2. Infertility
  3. Bloating
  4. Depression or anxiety

Treating PCOS and endometriosis:

Both PCOS and endometriosis are serious medical conditions that need prompt medical care. If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, it is important to speak to a doctor first to understand the root cause of the symptoms.  It is important to be specific about your symptoms or any distress you are feeling and most importantly don’t downplay your symptoms.

Depending on your diagnosis, your treatment pathway will differ too. Although following a healthy lifestyle has been proven beneficial for both conditions, there are certain medications and surgical interventions that can make it easier to live with these conditions.

Treatment for PCOS:

Managing PCOS is broadly based on making lifestyle changes and taking medications when necessary. Making lifestyle changes is the proven way to manage the symptoms in the long-term. This means eating a healthy diet, staying active regularly, taking control of stress levels and sleeping well. PCOS treatment diet mainly involves following a well-balanced diet that can provide your body with all the nutrients required to manage the underlying hormonal imbalance. Along with diet, regular physical activity, managing stress levels and getting good quality sleep can all help improve your overall health and control all your symptoms.

Treatment for endometriosis:

Broadly the treatment for endometriosis involves medications or surgery. Depending on your age, severity of symptoms and whether you are planning on getting pregnant, your treatment options can be accordingly designed. For women who have mild symptoms, taking over-the-counter medicines to relieve pain is sufficient. In some cases, hormone therapy may also be suggested as a way to control the female hormones that are involved in the menstrual cycle. It can potentially stop the growth of endometrial tissue outside the uterus. However, hormone therapy is not a permanent solution. Your PCOS symptoms can come back after you stop taking the medications. If you have severe pain or are planning on getting pregnant, surgically removing the areas of endometriosis can also provide relief. 

Given the overlap of symptoms, it is important to seek proper medical care for either of these conditions. If you are diagnosed with both, your doctor can come up with a treatment plan that can cater to your symptoms. Don’t hesitate to discuss what you are feeling and be open about your symptoms.