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 in her daily life. Both can also display similar symptoms, which is why an accurate diagnosis is important. But, have you ever wanted to know what is polycystic ovarian syndrome?
What is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome?
Fibroids are non-cancerous growths that develop within the uterus and can continue to grow to the size of an orange or even larger. Small fibroids may not cause any symptoms and 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 include 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 procedure that 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.
Risk Factors for PCOS
One of the main risk factors for developing PCOS is if you have a family member with the condition. Race and ethnicity don’t impact whether you will have the condition, unlike uterine fibroids. Women who produce a higher level of insulin and have high androgen levels are at a higher risk for PCOS as well.
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 be present 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 (male hormones) and excess insulin may be risk factors, while low-grade inflammation may raise levels of androgens. Heredity factors may also influence whether a woman develops PCOS.
What Causes Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?
The exact cause of PCOS isn’t known, but it is a hormonal disorder found in women during their reproductive years. It can develop when a woman first begins her menstrual cycle or later on in life. Certain factors may have a role in whether a woman develops the condition. One of those factors is excess insulin, which can raise your blood sugar levels.
Research indicates that genetics may link to PCOS, while a low-grade inflammation may cause ovaries to produce more androgens. High levels of androgens can cause acne and hirsutism, excessive hair growth in a male-like pattern on unexpected areas of the body, such as on the face, chest, and back.
Can PCOS Cause Uterine Fibroids?
PCOS and uterine fibroids are two separate conditions that aren’t directly related. 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. This is why it’s important to know what is polycystic ovarian syndrome and fibroids.
Although the cause of fibroids isn’t known, doctors know an influx of hormones causes their growth. 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 simultaneously, but having one diagnosis doesn’t indicate that you have the other condition. PCOS is most common in women in their 20s and 30s, while fibroids are most common in women in their 30s and 40s.
Because some of the risk factors are similar, it can lead to developing either condition or both. Several factors increase the risk of developing PCOS or fibroids:
- Family history of PCOS
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
Even with these similarities of PCOS and fibroids, there are still some significant differences between the two conditions.
The Difference Between PCOS and Fibroids
One of the big differences between PCOS and fibroids is the location. For PCOS, cysts are located on or in the ovaries, while fibroid tumors grow inside or outside the uterine walls.
Both PCOS and fibroids are non-cancerous, which can cause pain and other symptoms that impact your ability to manage normal routines with PCOS and fibroids.
Fibroids and PCOS Symptoms
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
- 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
- Pain during sex
- Severe menstrual cramps
- Frequent urination
If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms for PCOS and fibroids, it’s important to schedule an appointment with a specialist to receive a clear diagnosis and treatment options. Ask them what is polycystic ovarian syndrome? Women should not have to tolerate abnormal periods, fertility issues, and painful menstruation. Many women tend to accept unpleasant symptoms as something they just have to live with. At USA Fibroid Centers, we want women to know that treatment options exist and we have the answer to what is polycystic ovarian syndrome?
Health Complications of Leaving PCOS and Fibroids Untreated
If you’re still not sure what is polycystic ovarian syndrome is and what happens if PCOS is not diagnosed and treated early, a few health complications can arise. PCOS can cause the following:
- Fertility complications
- Type 2 diabetes
- High cholesterol
- Sleep apnea
- Endometrial cancer
When patients don’t understand what is polycystic ovarian syndrome, many health issues can seem misunderstood and alarming. One of the main consequences of leaving fibroids untreated is iron-deficiency anemia. Blood loss is the most common cause of anemia, as iron 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:
- Heavy bleeding
- Pelvic, abdomen, and/or lower back pain
- Severe bloating or constipation
- Frequent urination
Treatment for Uterine Fibroids
If you want to know more about what is polycystic ovarian syndrome or are tired of suffering from the symptoms of fibroids, know that help is available. At USA Fibroid Centers, we offer Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE). When you understand what is polycystic ovarian syndrome, you’ll better understand that 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. Knowing what is polycystic ovarian syndrome will help you feel more empowered with your treatment plan.
Request a Fibroid Treatment Consultation
If you suffer from the symptoms of uterine fibroids, you can trust USA Fibroid Centers to help improve your quality of life. Our interventional radiologists will discuss your treatment and answer any questions you may have. You can schedule a free consultation to learn more about this condition or give us a call at 855.615.2555 to visit one of our facilities.
1Girls Health.gov. April 24, 2018. What is PCOS? Retrieved from https://www.girlshealth.gov/body/reproductive/pcos.html#causes
2What is PCOS? April 24, 2018. Girlshealth.gov https://www.girlshealth.gov/body/reproductive/pcos.html#causes