PCOS & Endometriosis: How to Deal With Having Both

by | May 7, 2020

Both Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS for short) and Endometriosis are conditions that can be difficult for women to be diagnosed with.  But combining both can not only make a woman’s life painful but also can feel upsetting and isolating to find the right treatment.

a woman

While most women may be diagnosed with just one of the disorders, it’s possible to be diagnosed with both. The studies that cover the coexistence of both PCOS and Endometriosis don’t appear to be many. But the few studies that exist do suggest that yes you can have PCOS and Endometriosis, such as this one here.

While PCOS and Endometriosis can overlap, these disorders have distinctive symptoms that we will discuss below.

How does PCOS and Endometriosis together affect me?

Keep in mind every individual is different and may find themselves suffering from specific symptoms of both diagnoses. First let’s take a moment to discuss what each disorder causes, and their symptoms.

Symptoms of Endometriosis:

Endometriosis is a buildup of endometrial tissue outside of the uterus. This tissue causes bleeding, swelling, scarring and inflammation of the normal tissue surrounding it. Around 11% of women in the US suffer from this disorder.

Women suspected of having Endometriosis or diagnosed with Endometriosis usually have symptoms such as:

  • Pain, specifically painful menstrual cramps in the abdomen or lower back
  • Pain during sexual intercourse
  • Heavy menstrual periods
  • Infertility
  • Painful urination
  • Painful bowel movements

 

The severity of the pain can be different for each woman. Some women with endometriosis experience severe pain and some women experience little to no pain. However, this doesn’t mean they don’t suffer from Endometriosis.

Having your doctor perform the necessary to determine whether or not you have Endometriosis is the best way to determine if you have it.

Read more: Can you get pregnant with Endometriosis?

Symptoms of PCOS:

Polycystic ovary syndrome(PCOS) is a hormonal disorder that affects women during reproductive age, though it affects can go beyond reproductive years. Women with PCOS make an excessive amount of the male hormone androgen. 6% to 12% suffer from PCOS in the US alone.

Women are usually diagnosed with PCOS after showing the following symptoms:

  • Weight gain
  • Excess androgen levels
  • Polycystic ovaries( enlarged ovaries with multiple small follicles)
  • Fatigue
  • Facial hair
  • Excessive body hair
  • Thinning hair
  • Acne
  • Irregular periods or missing periods all together

 

Your doctor can perform blood tests to check your hormonal levels, an ultrasound to take a look at your ovaries to see help determine whether or not you’re suffering PCOS. Not every woman presents with all the symptoms mentioned above, talking with your doctor about what you’re experiencing can help you get properly diagnosed.

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Read more: Getting pregnant with PCOS.

What about symptoms from experiencing both PCOS and Endometriosis?

Women that are diagnosed with Endometriosis and PCOS can experience a variation of the symptoms mentioned above.

Women that have been diagnosed with both have commented experiencing going months without periods, and finally having a period that almost causes hemorrhaging. Some have also reported pelvic pains with our without a period. Many women have taken to the internet in hopes of finding others that may share similar experiences and to hopefully find relief.

With both PCOS and Endometriosis, a lot of women experience infertility and struggle to conceive. Infertility is the main symptom in both disorders that causes them to overlap.

How does PCOS & Endometriosis affect fertility?

While pregnancy is not completely impossible with PCOS and Endometriosis, it may be difficult for some women to conceive.

Though there is no absolute treatment for being diagnosed with PCOS and Endometriosis different options may be available. Being diagnosed with both means that it’s likely a mixture of potential treatment options will be suggested.

Going over your symptoms specific to you can help your medical professional decide what will be best for you.

Laparoscopy is a surgical treatment that helps remove any extra endometrial growth. This is also used to determine whether or not endometriosis is the cause of symptoms. This treatment can possibly help increase a woman’s chances of conceiving.

It’s important to note that this treatment is not a permanent fix and in some cases, endometriosis can return.

Hormonal therapy may be an option for some patients. Prescriptions such as metformin for ovulation, or birth control to regulate periods may also be an option for some women. There are many other hormonal therapies your doctor may mention as well.

Depending on what symptoms you’re struggling with the most will help you and your doctor decide which medicines will be most helpful for you.

In some cases, IVF(In-vitro fertilization) treatment may be an option for some patients.

Some women may want to choose more natural treatments. Changes to diet, adding exercise and cutting out soy, and other unnatural ingredients may help.  These changes can help some women lose weight, which may be recommended by your doctor.

Since there’s so much mystery still surrounding both PCOS and Endometriosis, a lot of women may experience a lot of trial and error when it comes to what works for them. The severity of your symptoms will play a big role in what works best for you.

Talking with your doctor about performing the necessary blood test and other necessary tests can help you narrow down what will work best.

Dealing with the emotional toll of being diagnosed with PCOS & Endometriosis can feel overwhelming

Many women talk about feeling angry, depressed, and hopeless with the diagnosis. Going through the symptoms of both PCOS and Endometriosis but no formal diagnosis or ways to help treat them can leave many women frustrated.

Finding support groups whether online or in-person can help with not feeling alone. Also finding a medical professional that listens to your concerns, and helps you figure out what the best course of treatment will be for you.

Conclusion

While it may be difficult to find the answers to being diagnosed with PCOS and Endometriosis, we know that some women do in fact suffer from being diagnosed with both.

Finding a provider that can help you find the best treatment for you along with support can give a sense of relief and hope with this diagnosis.

✔️ Medically Reviewed by Banafsheh Kashani, MD, FACOG

Banafsheh Kashani, MD, FACOGBanafsheh Kashani, M.D., FACOG is a board-certified OB/GYN and specialist in reproductive endocrinology and infertility at Eden Fertility Centers, and has been treating couples and individuals with infertility since 2014. Prior to joining Eden Centers for Advanced Fertility, she was practicing as a top fertility specialist at Kaiser Permanente in Orange County and Reproductive Fertility Center. Dr. Kashani has received numerous awards throughout her years of study and medical training. 

Dr. Kashani has conducted extensive research in female reproduction, with a specific focus on the endometrium and implantation. Additionally, Dr. Kashani has authored papers in the areas of fertility preservation, and fertility in women with PCOS and Turners syndrome. She also was part of a large SART-CORS study evaluating the trend in frozen embryo transfers and success rates.

Dr. Kashani is a fellow of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. In addition, she is a diplomat of the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology and an active member of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and Pacific Coast Reproductive Society (PCRS). She is also a member of the Society of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility (SREI).

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