Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and endometriosis are two completely different health conditions that affect women who are in their childbearing years. Reports state that 5-10% women may experience either one or both these conditions in their reproductive years! Dr Kshitiz Murdia, CEO and co-founder, Indira IVF, says, “Both endometriosis and PCOS need medical attention. Endometriosis is abnormal cell development outside the uterus, while PCOS is brought on by a hormonal imbalance, thus impacting other body systems. People affected by these conditions range in age from 12 to 52. Both illnesses lead to issues with menstruation, which can result in severe or less bleeding. They may also make it more challenging to become pregnant.”
Though uncommon, a woman can also have both PCOS and endometriosis at the same time. “One of the most difficult aspects of these conditions is that they are confusing and usually take a long time to diagnose. Many women may go for years without identifying the source of their problem, resulting in feelings of confusion, frustration, and distress,” adds Dr Kshitiz. He helps us understand both these conditions better.
Endometriosis has no known cause. This condition causes tissue that’s similar to the lining of your uterus, to grow in the wrong places. “It can cause painful symptoms when it develops on the outside of your uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries, intestine, or within your pelvic cavity. This pain is caused by increased inflammation, as well as fibrosis and adhesions,” says Dr Kshitiz.
If the symptoms are minor, most healthcare providers agree on the requirement of no further treatment, other than pain medication. “Oral contraceptives can be used to prevent ovulation and reduce menstrual flow. Endometriosis can be treated surgically using laparoscopy (also used to diagnose the condition). This is a minor surgical procedure that uses a laparoscope to remove endometrial growths,” explains Dr Kshitiz. Alternatively, laparotomy can be used to treat endometriosis; this is a more invasive procedure that removes as much of the displaced endometrium as possible while preserving healthy tissue. The uterus and possibly the ovaries are removed during a hysterectomy.
The symptoms of PCOS usually appear when the woman is in her late teens or early twenties. PCOS symptoms can range from mild to severe. Some women with PCOS have excess hair growth but normal periods and fertility. Mild unwanted hair is normal, and it can be difficult to determine when it becomes abnormal in women with mild PCOS. “Women with severe PCOS may experience excessive hair growth, infertility, and obesity. Symptoms can also change over time. In middle age, acne may become less of an issue, but hair growth may become more noticeable,” points out Dr Kshitiz.
PCOS is brought on by an imbalance of reproductive hormones. This imbalance in hormones may result in issues with one’s ovaries, such as irregular menstrual cycles and ability to conceive children. For PCOS, your doctor may recommend a combination of birth control pills, progestin therapy or other medication. Furthermore, losing weight may aid in the management of the condition. It may help in increasing one’s chances of ovulating, which helps with period problems and fertility, and may also help reduce hair growth and acne. In PCOS, there’s also the risk of developing long-term problems such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
Lifestyle Changes That Can Help
Dr Kshitiz says that while losing weight can be difficult, combine eating less and exercising more to help deal with the symptoms. “The best foods to eat for someone with PCOS are those that are slowly absorbed and keep blood sugar levels stable. Most fruits, vegetables, pulses, and wholegrain foods are both nutritious and low in calories,” he advises.
Although following a healthy lifestyle including eating a nutrient-dense diet can help with endometriosis and PCOS symptoms, having an overall sense of wellbeing can also help with these conditions. The sooner a person is diagnosed, the sooner they can begin treatment and alleviate their symptoms. “When living with endometriosis or PCOS, it is critical to have both medical and social support,” adds Dr Kshitiz.
Read more: Experts Explain How Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Affects Fertility