PCOS or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and Endometriosis are separate, chronic conditions that affect female reproductive organs. Both of these conditions may well cause infertility and often have painful and unique symptoms that can severely impact your standard of living. While the two have a significant amount of overlap and both attack the reproductive organs, the two are actually very different and require different treatments. Understanding the difference between them is incredibly important, and our team at London IVF and Genetics Centre would like to help with this understanding.

What is PCOS?

PCOS is a hormonal disorder that manifests itself in a number of ways. For example, women with PCOS tend to have infrequent or irregular menstrual cycles, as well as elevated androgen levels (a male hormone) which causes acne and excessive facial and body hair. Another important symptom is the presence of cyst-like follicles on their ovaries hence the name. This is a particular concern because these cysts prevent the release of eggs, which adds to the irregularity of the menstrual cycle and decreases fertility. 

What is Endometriosis?

Endometriosis occurs when the tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus starts to grow on or around the ovaries, fallopian tubes and the inside of the pelvis. Unfortunately, this means that each month, this endometrial tissue starts to break down and bleed. The tissue has no way to exit the body, meaning that those who suffer from endometriosis are bleeding internally, resulting in severe pelvic pain. In addition to this pain during menstruation, there is also pain during intercourse, heavy bleeding in between periods, and infertility caused by scar tissue. 

What’s the Difference Between the Two?

The key difference between the two is the cause of the conditions. PCOS is a hormonal problem, while endometriosis is caused by abnormal cell development. This means that both conditions act differently and react to different medicines. PCOS has to be carefully treated because the hormonal changes impact multiple parts of the body. You might want to consult more than just a fertility specialist about your PCOS treatment, as dermatologists, endocrinologists, and dietitians can all help to keep the symptoms of the condition under control. 

Endometriosis is predominantly treated through surgery. The removal of these abnormal cells ensures that the uterus is able to receive the fertilised egg and grow with the foetus without concern. This surgery isn’t foolproof, though, as the cells may well grow back, so it’s important to keep an eye on your endometriosis throughout the years.

Both of these conditions can seriously impact fertility, particularly if it’s not properly treated. Unfortunately, society’s general lack of focus on the reproductive health of women, meaning that many ignore the hormonal issues and physical pain, assuming that it’s normal. Often, it’s only when women attempt to conceive that they discover these conditions and this can often be too late to properly combat the concerns. 

Even with the best treatment available, it can be difficult to conceive and to carry the pregnancy to term. This doesn’t mean that conception is impossible, simply that it is significantly more difficult and it depends greatly on the progression of the condition and the individual’s lifestyle. Additionally, endometriosis can be overcome using a combination of surgery and specific fertility treatments. 

Would you Like Any Further Information?

If you’re looking to manage your PCOS or endometriosis, or if you’re worried about the impact either of these conditions could have on your family planning, then feel free to contact one of our offices today on 0207 580 0207 from London or 01908 915151 if you are based in Milton Keynes. We would be happy to arrange an appointment for you with one of our medical professionals, providing you with the information and the peace of mind you’re looking for.