Endometriosis vs. PCOS: How to tell the difference

The disorders endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) affect women who are of reproductive age. Both conditions can be uncomfortable and interfere with a regular menstrual cycle by increasing bleeding or producing irregular periods.

Both endometriosis and PCOS

  • Might cause a lot of bleeding
  • Might cause infertility.
  • Affect around 1 in 10 British women.
  • Lack a treatment

Despite these similarities, the two conditions are very distinct from one another. They need distinct care, and these symptoms are not managed in the same way.

Can PCOS and endometriosis be detected at the same time?

It is crucial to recognise the differences between PCOS and endometriosis since, unfortunately, both conditions can occur simultaneously in a patient.

How prevalent is PCOS compared to endometriosis?

Females who are of reproductive age frequently experience endometriosis and PCOS.

According to a 2018 research, endometriosis affects over 70% of women who experience persistent pelvic discomfort and affects between 10% and 15% of women overall.

Five to twenty percent of women of reproductive age have PCOS, according to 2017 research. Furthermore, according to the same study, PCOS affects roughly 80% of women who are unable to conceive as a result of irregular ovulation.

What is endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a disorder where tissue that resembles the uterine lining develops outside of the uterine cavity, such as on the ovaries, bowel, or the tissues lining the pelvic.


  • Heavy bleeding
  • painful periods with cramps
  • pain during or after intercourse
  • infertility
  • painful bowel motions
  • especially during periods
  • exhaustion

What is PCOS?

PCOS is a hormonal condition that affects your ovaries. The following are the major characteristics of PCOS:

o irregular or no periods

o excessive amounts of androgens

o cysts in one or both ovaries

If you have PCOS, you are likely to have at least two of the aforementioned disorders. PCOS can exist without ovarian cysts.

Common signs of PCOS include: 

  • infertility issues
  • irregular or no menstrual cycles
  • pre-eclampsia during pregnancy
  • weight gain and trouble losing weight
  • acne
  • unwanted hair growth.

What are the causes of endometriosis vs. PCOS?

The exact causes of endometriosis and PCOS are unknown. However, researchers have identified possible explanations.


  • Retrograde menstruation: When you have your period, uterine tissue flows via the fallopian tubes and into the pelvic cavity.
  • Immune system issues: Although retrograde menstruation affects nearly everyone with vagina and who is menstrual, the immune system typically controls it. Endometriosis, however, could develop if you have an immune system issue.
  • Coelomic metaplasia: Some cells may develop into endometrial cells, which might account for endometriosis that manifests outside of the uterus.
  • Endometrial cells transport: It may be transported to different places through your lymphatic system or blood arteries.
  • Post-operative implantation: After various procedures, such as a hysterectomy, endometrial cells may self-implant at the surgical site.


  • Hormonal imbalance: High levels of several hormones, such as testosterone, may be a factor in the development of PCOS.
  • Insulin resistance: If your body can’t use insulin properly, you may have too much insulin in your system. Your ovaries may create more male hormones as a result of this.
  • High amounts of male hormones might also be caused by excessive inflammation.

When to visit a doctor concerning PCOS or endometriosis

You should see a gynaecologist if you have:

  • difficulties getting pregnant
  • discomfort during or after sex
  • pain or bleeding between cycles
  • increased menstrual bleeding
  • irregular or no periods
  • pelvic pain
  • pain during or after sex

Early identification is essential for managing symptoms in both endometriosis and PCOS. You should thus go to your yearly gynaecology check-ups. A doctor who specialises in hormones or an endocrinologist may also be recommended to you.


National Institutes of Health

Centers for Disease Control

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