SMCV consultants help women to better understand and differentiate endometriosis and PCOS (BERNAMA)

03 March 2022


Late, painful and irregular periods are the major symptoms of gynaecological conditions such as endometriosis and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), and people should be able to differentiate the two to avoid further worry among patients as some of the signs may overlap. 

In conjunction with Endometriosis Awareness Month this March, Sunway Medical Centre Velocity (SMCV)’s consultants are sharing their insight on what sets these two conditions apart, along with treatment options and next steps for patients to have a better quality of life.

Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist Dr Farah Leong Rahman said that both conditions vary very much from each other, with PCOS related to abnormal hormone levels in the body including high levels of insulin.

“Some of the common symptoms of PCOS are infrequent or irregular period, weight gain, oily face, hair at unwanted places or acne caused by increased production of male hormones,” she said in a statement issued by SMCV today.

She said endometriosis, however, is a condition where the tissue lining the womb starts to grow elsewhere such as on the ovaries, uterus, fallopian tubes, bowels or rarely even lungs and symptoms can vary in women, but the symptoms include painful periods, pain during or after sex or a constant pain at the lower tummy or back. 

Women with PCOS or endometriosis are able to conceive naturally but some may require assistance.

“Women with PCOS who have irregular or infrequent periods, there is a lack of ovulation, thus making it difficult in determining their fertile period.

“Women with endometriosis can have distorted anatomy of the pelvis, scarring tissues around the ovaries and fallopian tubes making the environment less conducive for pregnancy,” Dr Farah elaborates.

Meanwhile, another Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist Dr Ashley Chung Soo Bee said in terms of susceptibility to the conditions, endometriosis usually affects women during their reproductive age.

Research has shown that genetics play a factor in developing the condition, with 25 to 30 per cent of women with PCOS having a mother or sister with PCOS as well.

“Family members of a woman with PCOS are at a higher risk of developing the same metabolic abnormalities in the family,” she said.

 With endometriosis cysts being found in or on fallopian tubes, bowels, on, behind or around the womb in the area between the vagina and rectum, the subsequent bleeding that occurs may cause pain, inflammation, scarring and the possibility of organ damage.

“Please consult a gynaecologist if you have a painful period, regular pain before, during or after your period, pain or discomfort during sex, pain related to your bowel and bladder movement or difficulty in getting pregnant as you might be having endometriosis,” said Dr Ashley. 

She said that PCOS may vary from woman to woman with some experiencing milder symptoms and others experiencing more severe ones. 

“Once you have a PCOS diagnosis, you will be at higher risk of getting long term health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, depression and psychological issues and cancer of the womb. If you have not had period in over four months, it is advisable to see a gynaecologist for further assessment,” she said. 

On some occasions, patients can also develop both conditions at the same time, hence making it more important for patients to seek out proper medical counsel to find and receive the right balance in treatment when it comes to both endometriosis and PCOS.

In the case of both conditions, both doctors advise that the ideal course of action is to speak to a trusted consultant that can advise what tests and check-ups can be done to ensure a proper diagnosis is delivered.

From pelvic ultrasound scans to hormonal blood tests to check on the patient’s hormonal status and ovarian reserve, patients can then figure out the appropriate treatments to live well with the conditions.

According to Dr Farah, there is no permanent cure for both conditions, but there are treatments to help reduce the symptoms.

“The primary treatment for PCOS is lifestyle changes such as maintaining an optimal weight, eating a healthy and well-balanced diet and doing regular exercise,” she added.