What is PCOS?
Polycystic ovarian syndrome, also referred to as PCOS, is a hormonal condition causing enlarged ovaries with small cysts protruding along the outer edges. PCOS affects about 1 in 10 women living in the United States (What is PCOS?, 2014). PCOS symptoms include: irregular or missed periods, weight gain, unwanted hair, acne or oily skin, significant mood changes, sleep apnea, depression, patches of dark, thick skin, and infertility. PCOS can be confused with uterine fibroids due to the fact that they are both caused by hormones and share similar symptoms when it comes to: irregular periods, depression, and fertility complications. During the month of September, we are raising awareness of common uterine health conditions through sharing education. Many women who may think they have uterine fibroids, might actually have PCOS, or vice versa. This is why it is crucial to share information regarding other uterine conditions and disorders. Highlighting the differences between uterine disorders helps understand our bodies and systems better, in order to get treatment early-on.
Differences Between PCOS and Uterine Fibroids
Uterine fibroids are benign tumors in the uterus that can cause heavy and prolonged bleeding, pelvic pain and cramping, frequent urination, constipation, abdominal bloating, lower-back pain, and issues with fertility or conception. The main difference between PCOS and fibroids is that the first condition is comprised of uterine cysts on the ovaries due to a hormonal imbalance, and the latter is a result of growths within the uterus (Know the Difference: PCOS vs Fibroids, 2016). Fibroids do not affect the ovaries and are located within the uterus or uterine lining. PCOS and fibroids are two very different conditions that affect different people. Researchers are still not decided on what causes either of these conditions. Many believe that PCOS is caused either by an influx of too much insulin or androgens in a woman’s body. Uterine fibroids is also thought to be caused by hormones, both estrogen and progesterone, because these benign tumors typically increase in growth during a woman’s child-bearing years. This uncertainty of causation is one of the few similarities between these two conditions.
If PCOS is not diagnosed and treated early, a few health complications can potentially arise. PCOS can cause fertility complications, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, sleep apnea, and endometrial cancer (What is PCOS?, 2014). One of the main consequences of leaving fibroids untreated is anemia. Blood loss is the most common cause of anemia. Loss of iron that is contained in red blood cells can often become depleted causing fatigue and other serious health concerns (Uterine fibroids: Correlations of anemia and pain to fibroid location and uterine weight, 2011). Other than anemia and complications with fertility and conception, leaving uterine fibroids untreated can cause symptoms like heavy bleeding, pelvic pain, bloating, and frequent urination, to become more intense and uncomfortable.
At USA Fibroid Centers, we treat women suffering from uterine fibroids. If you are suffering from symptomatic fibroids, or are in need of a diagnosis, call (855) 615-2555 to schedule a consultation with our leading interventional radiologists. UFE is performed as an outpatient procedure at USA Fibroid Centers and takes 30 to 45 minutes. The patient can go home after a short recovery. Treatments at USA Fibroid Centers are covered by Medicaid and most insurance plans.
Take our fibroid symptoms quiz to learn more!
Office on Women’s Health. (2014, April 15). What is PCOS? Retrieved September 25, 2018, from https://www.girlshealth.gov/body/reproductive/pcos.html#causes
Bachmann GA, Bahouth LA, Amalraj P, Mhamunkar V, Hoes K, Ananth CV. (2011, November). Uterine fibroids: Correlations of anemia and pain to fibroid location and uterine weight. Retrieved March 30, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22195327.
Motorwala, Z. (2016, July 05). Know The Difference: PCOS Vs Fibroids. Retrieved September 24, 2018, from https://www.idiva.com/news-health/know-the-difference-pcos-vs-fibroids/16070198