PCOS and Fibroids: What’s the Difference?

Polycystic ovarian syndrome, also referred to as PCOS, is a condition that affects women of childbearing age. Both PCOS and fibroids can impact a woman’s ability to have children and cause significant issues for her daily life; both can also display similar symptoms, which is why an accurate diagnosis is important.

What are Fibroids?

Fibroids are non-cancerous growths that develop within the uterus and can continue to grow to the size of an orange or even larger. When they are small, the presence of the fibroids may not cause any symptoms, and they may not get diagnosed until they are large enough to cause pain. There is no single cause for the development of these fibroids, though risk factors do exist, such as age and genetics.

USA Fibroid Centers offers Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) for women who want to treat their fibroids and improve their quality of life. UFE is a minimally invasive solution, which can cause them to shrink. UFE is performed as an outpatient treatment, where a tiny catheter is inserted into the uterine artery. Tiny particles called embolic agents are injected into the uterine artery to stop blood flow to the fibroids.


What Is PCOS?

PCOS is a hormonal condition affecting about one in 10 women living in the United States. Similar to fibroids, the exact cause of this condition isn’t known. It may begin after a woman goes through puberty, or it may not present itself until later. A significant weight gain may increase the risk of developing PCOS. A doctor may diagnose a patient with PCOS if they have two of the following signs:

  • Irregular periods
  • Cysts on the ovaries
  • High levels of androgens, which are male hormones found in small amounts in women

Several factors increase the risk for PCOS. High levels of androgens and excess insulin may be risk factors, while low-grade inflammation may raise levels of androgens. Heredity factors may also have an influence on whether a woman develops PCOS.

Can PCOS Cause Uterine Fibroids?

PCOS and uterine fibroids are two separate conditions that aren’t directly related to each other. They may have some similarities in symptoms, and it is possible to be misdiagnosed with one when the patient has the other condition. However, they occur in two different areas of the body.PCOS affects just the ovaries and uterine fibroids impact the uterus. Although the cause of fibroids isn’t known, doctors know their growth is caused by an influx of hormones. For PCOS,  an overproduction of male hormones in the ovaries or adrenal glands can cause cyst growth. Obesity is one risk factor common to both conditions.

Can You Have PCOS and Fibroids at the Same Time?

It’s possible to have both PCOS and fibroids at the same time, but having one diagnosis isn’t an indication that you have the other condition. PCOS is most common in women in their 20s and 30s, while fibroids often develop in women in their 30s and 40s.

Because some of the risk factors are similar, it can lead to the development of either condition or both. Several factors increase the risk of developing PCOS or fibroids:

  • Family history of PCOS
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol

Even with these similarities, there are still some significant differences between the two conditions.

The Difference Between PCOS and Fibroids

One of the big differences between the two conditions is the location. For PCOS, cysts are located on or in the ovaries, while fibroid tumors grow inside or outside the uterine walls.

Both conditions are non-cancerous, which can cause pain and other symptoms that impact your ability to manage normal routines.

PCOS Symptoms vs. Symptoms of Fibroids

Since there are similarities between fibroid and PCOS symptoms, you can’t self-diagnose if you have PCOS vs. fibroids. That’s why it is crucial to see a specialist, as well as track all of your symptoms.

Symptoms of PCOS include the following:

  • Irregular periods or missed periods
  • No periods at all
  • Very heavy periods
  • No ovulation
  • Infertility
  • Excess facial and body hair
  • Severe acne
  • Enlarged ovaries
  • Weight gain or difficulty losing weight
  • Oily skin
  • Pain in the pelvic area

Symptoms of fibroids include the following:

  • Enlarged uterus
  • Pain in the pelvic area
  • Heavy and prolonged bleeding
  • Cramps
  • Pain during sex
  • Severe menstrual cramps
  • Frequent urination

If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms, it’s important to schedule an appointment with a specialist to receive a clear diagnosis and treatment options. Women should not have to put up with abnormal periods, fertility issues, and painful menstruation. Many people tend to write off symptoms as something they just have to live with. At USA Fibroid Centers, we want women to know that treatment options exist.

Complications of PCOS vs. Uterine Fibroids

If PCOS is not diagnosed and treated early, a few health complications can potentially arise. PCOS can cause the following:

  • Fertility complications
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • Sleep apnea
  • Endometrial cancer

One of the main consequences of leaving fibroids untreated is iron-deficiency anemia. Blood loss is the most common cause of anemia, as iron contained in red blood cells can often become depleted, causing fatigue and other serious health concerns. Other than anemia and complications with fertility and conception, leaving uterine fibroids untreated can cause symptoms like:

Treatment for Uterine Fibroids

If you’re tired of suffering from the symptoms of fibroids, know that help is available. At USA Fibroid Centers, we offer Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE). UFE treatment can shrink fibroids over a few months, which can alleviate symptoms like heavy bleeding, extended periods, severe cramping, and anemia. There is no hospital stay, stitches, or general anesthesia necessary for treatment, and you can get back to normal activities within a few days.

Request a Fibroid Treatment Consultation

If you have symptoms of fibroids, our specialists can answer your questions and explain your options with a personalized treatment plan. Talk to one of our helpful team members at (855) 615-2555 or schedule online for a consultation with our leading interventional radiologists.