PCOS vs Endometriosis: Difference and Comparison

PCOS and Endometriosis are health disorders that affect a woman’s reproductive system. Both these diseases take place when a female has an active menstrual cycle (between ages 12 to 52 approximately).

The initial symptoms of both PCOS and endometriosis are similar, so one has to take medical supervision to detect the exact problem. 

Key Takeaways

  1. PCOS involves hormonal imbalances, leading to irregular periods and ovarian cysts.
  2. Endometriosis occurs when endometrial tissue grows outside the uterus, causing pain and inflammation.
  3. Both conditions can impact fertility and require different treatment approaches.

PCOS vs Endometriosis

PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) is a hormonal disorder in women that can cause irregular periods, excessive hair growth, and fertility issues. Endometriosis is a condition where the tissue lining the uterus grows outside of it, leading to pain and infertility.

PCOS vs Endometriosis

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a very common hormonal disorder in women who are in their reproductive age. In this disorder, the level of androgen (a male hormone) increases in excess amount in the female body.

Excess body hair, acne, and male pattern baldness are common symptoms, along with irregular menstrual cycles. 

The endometrium is a type of tissue that lines the inside of the uterus. Endometriosis is a disorder in which the endometrial tissue starts growing in other places of the body.

It is a rather painful disorder, and the risk of it increases in girls who have got early periods (age 10-11). Dysmenorrhea (painful periods) is a sign of endometriosis. 

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonPCOSEndometriosis
DefinitionPCOS is a hormonal disorder that leads to enlargement of the ovaries and the formation of small cysts on the outer edge. Endometriosis is a hormonal disorder in which the tissue called endometrium starts growing in other body parts along with the uterus. 
CausesThe most common causes are inflammation, insulin resistance, and hormonal imbalance. Some common causes are endometrial cell transport, retrograde menstruation, and post-surgery implantation. 
SymptomsIrregular menstrual cycle, obesity, excess hair growth, and acne. Pelvic pain and cramps during menstruation, longer periods, and heavy bleeding. 
RiskFamily history of PCOS, obesity, and diabetes increases the risk of having PCOS. Starting periods at an early age, and short menstrual cycles increase the risk for endometriosis. 
DiagnosisMedical history, ultrasound, blood tests, and pelvic exams are common. Imaging tests, pelvic exams, laparoscopy, and blood tests are common. 
TreatmentMedications, weight management, and surgery to remove androgen-releasing tissues. Surgical removal of endometrial tissue growth, hysterectomy, and medications. 
Population AffectedIt affects 4-20 percent of fertile women globally. It affects approximately 10 percent of reproductive women globally. 

What is PCOS?

 Irregular or heavy periods are a very common sign of PCOS. Other common symptoms of this hormonal disorder are excess androgen levels in the body and polycystic ovaries.

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Excess androgen level causes the growth of the body and facial hair (hirsutism) and accompanies acne. The size of the ovaries increases, and they fail to function normally. 

Several causes of PCOS include excess insulin (leads to excess androgen production), low-grade inflammation, and if someone in the family tree has PCOS.

Some of the complications that PCOS causes are infertility, miscarriage or premature birth, uterine bleeding, type 2 diabetes, etc. 

If PCOS is diagnosed at an early stage, it can be cured with the help of proper medications. Weight management and maintaining a regular healthy diet also help.

In extreme cases, the androgen-releasing tissues are destroyed with the help of surgery. This is considered only when the medications don’t work. 

What is Endometriosis?

 In the case of endometriosis, the endometrial tissue grows on other regions like the outer lining of the uterus and fallopian tubes, and they also bleed with each menstrual cycle.

Severe pelvic pain is one of the most prominent symptoms of endometriosis. Cramps may begin before the menstrual cycle and can continue for a longer period. Excessive bleeding and pain during urination are the other symptoms. 

Many causes of endometriosis include retrograde menstruation (the menstrual blood is trapped inside the body and thickens over time), the transformation of peritoneal cells (these cells convert into endometrial-like cells), endometrial cell transport, etc.

Early onset of menstrual cycle and short menstrual cycles (less than 27 days) increase the risk of endometriosis. 

Endometriosis can lead to infertility. This happens because sometimes the thickening of the endometrial layer blocks the fallopian tube, so the sperm is unable to fertilize the egg. 

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Main Differences Between PCOS and Endometriosis

  1.  PCOS is a hormonal disorder that leads to enlargement of the ovaries and the formation of small cysts on the outer edge, whereas, in the case of endometriosis, the endometrial tissue grows in other parts of the body than just the uterus. 
  2. The most common causes of PCOS are inflammation, insulin resistance, and hormonal imbalance, whereas causes of endometriosis are endometrial cell transport, retrograde menstruation, and post-surgery implantation.
  3. Common symptoms of PCOS are irregular menstrual cycle, obesity, excess hair growth, and acne, whereas symptoms of endometriosis are pelvic pain and cramps during menstruation, longer periods, and heavy bleeding. 
  4. Diabetic patients and those with a family history of PCOS increase the risk of the disease. On the other hand, for girls whose menstrual cycle starts early (age 10-11), a short menstrual cycle increases the risk of endometriosis. 
  5. Ultrasounds are used for diagnosing PCOS, whereas laparoscopy is used to diagnose endometriosis. 
  6. Apart from medications, laparoscopic ovarian drilling (surgery) is a treatment for PCOS, whereas hysterectomy is a known treatment for endometriosis. 
  7. PCOS affects 4-20 percent of reproductive women globally, whereas endometriosis affects 10 percent of the same population. 
Difference Between PCOS and Endometriosis
  1. https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMcp1000274
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0015028208013927

Last Updated : 23 June, 2023

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7 thoughts on “PCOS vs Endometriosis: Difference and Comparison”

  1. The tone of the article makes the reading very pleasant and easy to understand. It is an excellent means of information for women of reproductive age.

  2. I found this article very useful to understand the symptoms and the differences between these two conditions. It really helped me to clarify some aspects.

    • The article gives a clear overview of PCOS and endometriosis. It helped me to find the information I was looking for.

  3. The article is well written and informative, it’s a good starting point for people dealing with these conditions to understand them better.

  4. I found this article really helpful for my research. The detailed comparison makes it easy to understand the differences between PCOS and endometriosis.

  5. The comparison between PCOS and endometriosis is really interesting, this article does an excellent job in pointing out the difference between these two conditions.

  6. This article is a great source of knowledge about these two conditions. It clearly explains the most important aspects and differences between PCOS and endometriosis.


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