How do I Tell the Difference Between PCOS and Endometriosis?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 04 January 2020
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There are many differences between endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). One of the main differences is the part of the body that is involved. Endometriosis is basically a condition in which the type of tissue that normally lines a woman’s uterus is found outside of the uterus; this often causes pain, infertility, and heavy bleeding. PCOS, on the other hand, primarily affects a woman’s ovaries. It is marked by multiple cysts in a woman’s ovaries and a range of other symptoms, including infertility, acne, weight gain, and irregular periods.

A person may be confused about the difference between PCOS and endometriosis because the conditions are similar in a number of important ways. For starters, they are conditions that only affect women and cause problems with the female reproductive system. Likewise, they are both problems that can cause irregular periods. Additionally, both of these conditions have the potential to cause or contribute to fertility problems in affected women. Beyond this, however, the two conditions are very different.

The primary difference between PCOS and endometriosis is the part of the reproductive system that is affected. With PCOS, the problem is focused on the ovaries. Endometriosis, however, involves endometrial tissue that appears outside the uterus and affects other organs in the pelvis. For example, it may grow on the ovaries, but can also affect a range of other organs. Additionally, the tissue may form on the pelvic cavity lining and other structures.


Symptoms are another way in which PCOS and endometriosis are different. Among the common symptoms of PCOS are small cysts in the ovaries, infertility, acne, and irregular periods or the absence of menstruation. Some women with this condition also have insulin-related problems, elevated blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and weight gain. The symptoms of endometriosis include pain in the pelvis, pain in the lower back, and bowel movement changes. Other symptoms can include heavier-than-normal menstrual bleeding, irregular vaginal bleeding, infertility, and blood in the urine.

Scientists are not 100 percent certain why PCOS and endometriosis occur, but the suspected causes differ. For example, scientists think endometriosis is caused by the backup of menstrual blood into a woman’s pelvis and abdomen. Some also theorize there are primitive cells in a woman’s pelvis that have potential for forming endometrial tissues. There are even some studies that point to problems with immune system response as the cause of endometriosis.

Scientists believe PCOS may be caused by hormonal abnormalities that encourage the development of cysts and interfere with normal ovulation. Problems with the way the body processes blood sugar may play a role as well. There may even be a genetic link for women who have PCOS, as women who have this condition often have a close female relative who has it as well.


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Post 3

@KoiwiGal: I have PCOS and my sister has endometriosis. This isn't a place to start saying, "Mine's worse than yours." In our case, she had very little pain and I spent most of my periods on painkillers sufficient to drop an elephant. These are terrible conditions and anyone who suffers from either (no matter how severe) deserves sympathy and support.

Post 2

The best way to tell if you have PCOS is to check your chin out. If you aren't a teenager any more and you have acne there all the time, you might have it. If you have hair there, or in other places that usually only men have it, you might have PCOS.

If you have trouble losing weight, and if you have irregular periods and severe PMS you might have PCOS. All of these things together mean you probably do have it, and you should check it out with your doctor. Make sure you get a PCOS specialist doctor, because many of them aren't completely familiar with it. The earlier you can diagnose it the better, as it can

make you more likely to get all kinds of diseases and infertility. The best treatments, by the way, are weight loss, exercise and eating a low GI diet.

The symptoms of endometriosis are heavy bleeding and pain. It's not really the same thing at all.

Post 1

Endometriosis is an awful disease and most women with it suffer from a lot of pain during their time of the month, with periods often lasting longer than they should.

Women with polycystic ovarian disease might have more pain and cramping than usual, but it is not anywhere close to as cruel as endometriosis pain.

The sad thing that the two conditions have in common is that many women just think they are a normal part of having a period and never get diagnosed, or treated until they are trying to get pregnant. In some cases, by that point it is already too late and fertility is gone.

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