How to Know if You Have PCOS or Endometriosis | Chennai PCOS

PCOS and endometriosis often go undiagnosed simply because the unique anatomy of women afflicts them to assume that their symptoms are just variations of a normal menstrual cycle. Many years may go by before women know if they have PCOS or Endometriosis as both the conditions may show overlapping symptoms making it difficult to get a diagnosis for. But the suffering of women does not change just because the conditions may be undiagnosed. Inability to discover the root of the condition can lead to feelings of confusion, frustration, and distress. Misinformation and lack of diagnosis could also intensify mental health problems. To determine whether you might have PCOS or endometriosis, a guide to the similarities and differences between the two conditions may be of help.

PCOS/Endometriosis – know the similarities

It is important for a woman to know that it is acceptable to have either one of these health issues as they are relatively the more common gynecological conditions of childbearing age. The two topmost conditions of the female reproductive system that tends to get much attention are PCOS and endometriosis.

  • Both conditions have menstrual abnormalities.
  • Both conditions are caused by an imbalance of reproductive hormones.
  • Both conditions can lead to fertility issues.
  • Both conditions can be difficult to diagnose.
  • Both conditions trigger fluctuation in mood.

know the age group for PCOS/Endometriosis

  • PCOS is the most common endocrine disorder among women between the ages of 18 and 44. It affects approximately 2% to 20% of this age group. PCOS is known to occur at a younger age in girls who develop early pubarche and thelarche.  The age of onset is most often at adolescence and it affects premenopausal women. The condition can go unnoticed or delayed when a woman fails to recognize or become concerned about the symptoms. The overlap of PCOS findings with normal physiologic maturation during the 2 years after menarche often hampers early observation. In lean women with a genetic predisposition to PCOS, the syndrome may present symptoms when they subsequently gain weight during later years of age.

  • Endometriosis is diagnosed in most women in their reproductive age between 25 to 4o years. This age group makes up the largest proportion of all the women living with the condition. Though endometriosis has been reported in younger girls, it is not common.  Endometriosis is also a rare condition in postmenopausal women. Diagnosis of endometriosis at any point across the lifespan, even during adolescence and post-menopause is possible, but diagnosis before puberty and after menopause is extremely rare. Diagnosis of endometriosis can be a difficult and long process that is most often confirmed only through surgery, suggesting that many adult women may have had the condition since adolescence.

Know the symptoms of pain in PCOS/Endometriosis

  • PCOS presents pelvic pain as one of the less common symptoms. Ovarian cysts produced during the course of the condition can cause pain in the pelvic area. Some women with PCOS may also experience low back pain, sacral pain, and lower quadrant abdominal pain. Pelvic pain caused by ovarian cysts in PCOS can feel like a dull ache or a sharp stab in the lower belly. The pain may be felt to be persistent or intermittent.

  • The hallmark symptom of endometriosis is pelvic pain, often in concurrence with menstrual periods. To experience cramping during menstrual periods may be normal for many women but the menstrual pain associated with endometriosis is typically described as far severe than usual. Pain may also worsen over time. Pain while or after having sex, on urination, and bowel movements are key features of Endometriosis.

Know the difference in menstrual abnormalities of PCOS/Endometriosis.

  • Long and irregular menstrual cycles are the primary characteristics of PCOS. With PCOS, a woman may have less frequent periods (oligomenorrhea) or no periods at all (amenorrhea). The type of menstrual cycle abnormality is considered to represent a useful tool for identifying PCOS in women. Menstrual irregularities appearing often at puberty or later on during the reproductive years are presented on a broad spectrum in PCOS. The time of onset of menstrual irregularities indicates a differential metabolic and/or hormonal profile as well as ovarian findings in adulthood.

  • Painful menstrual cramping (dysmenorrhea) not relieved by normal pain killers along with heavy menstrual flow (menorrhagia) is an important sign of endometriosis. Endometriosis can also impact the length of a woman’s menstrual cycles, as well as how long the menstrual bleeding lasts. Since the body has more tissue to shed, periods may last longer. Their cycles may become shorter, with menstruation beginning sooner than every 28 days or the usual duration.

Know the physical signs of PCOS/Endometriosis

  • Elevated levels of male hormones in women with PCOS may result in physical signs, such as excess facial and body hair (hirsutism), severe acne, male-pattern baldness, and dark skin patches around the neck or areas of skin folds. Metabolic disorders accompanying PCOS can result in risk factors such as weight gain, hypertension, and hyperinsulinemia.

  • Women with endometriosis report feelings of low energy and constant exhaustion to the extent of describing this fatigue as being “tranquilized”. This fatigue could be a warning sign that a flare-up of pelvic pain is approaching. The main cause of endometriosis-related fatigue is the body’s effort to eliminate unwanted, diseased tissue. Fatigue may also be accompanied by feelings of nausea and digestive issues.

In conclusion, it is important to know that self-diagnosis is not recommended with any health condition, even in PCOS and endometriosis. It is also possible to have these conditions without any symptoms. Sometimes, the symptoms might be subtle or misdiagnosed. But to have some clue about what is happening to the body can help navigate the conversation with the doctor towards the right diagnosis. The diagnostic process majorly depends on monitoring periods and pain levels. Tracking of periods for regularity and also associated pain helps determine possible differences that will help the doctor to circle in on a suspected diagnosis. Further to that, pelvic examination, additional testing, and investigation can confirm the clinical condition.

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