Endometriosis And PCOS: Understanding The Importance Of Early Diagnosis
Endometriosis and PCOS may show similar symptoms but are different from each other in different ways. Read here to know about the diagnosis and treatment of these conditions that affect women.
Endometriosis and PCOS affect a large number of women these days
- PCOS, if left uncontrolled can lead to infertility
- Endometriosis can lead to severely painful periods
- Both PCOS and endometriosis can lead to irregular periods
Endometriosis is a benign, debilitating disease that results in tissue growth inside or outside the uterus and is associated with higher levels of estrogen (a hormone produced in the body of the female responsible for the development of female characteristics and prepares the body for reproduction). This results in a painful menstrual cycle and can also cause further complications if left untreated. In many cases women are unable get the proper care that they deserve due to the social stigma associated with sexual health and menstrual health. The most common symptoms associated with endometriosis are painful periods, intestinal pain, bleeding between periods, infertility, etc. Over the last five years, there has been a substantial increase in endometriosis cases. This could be due to early puberty, genetic factors, environmental factors and conception among others.
Endometriosis And PCOS: Diagnosis and treatment
The treating physician identifies it by understanding the symptoms through detailed history collection followed by a thorough physical examination. The diagnostic tests include a vaginal ultrasound and/or pelvic ultrasound. Another test that is used to verify endometriosis is via a laparoscopic method, a minimally invasive procedure wherein a camera is used to confirm the type of endometriosis. This is also considered to be the gold standard in the diagnosis of the condition. These tests are also used to clearly identify ovarian cysts (tissue growth on one or both of the ovaries).
The treatment option can be carried out using medications in minor cases and in cases of advanced endometriosis a surgical approach is suggested. The surgical approach can be open surgeries or minimally invasive surgeries. The latest form of minimally invasive surgeries like robotic assisted surgeries (RAS), which combine the practical usefulness of open surgeries and the minimal invasiveness of laparoscopic surgeries, is now an option available to patients diagnosed with endometriosis.
Another condition that affects women of childbearing age is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). In India, it has been estimated that one in every five women suffer from PCOS and the majority of the women who suffer from this ailment tend to be overweight. This is a condition where the woman can have sporadic or extended menstrual periods that could be associated with higher levels of testosterone (a hormone that helps to develop male characteristics). The diagnosis for PCOS is done similarly to endometriosis. One key difference is that a blood test to measure the hormonal levels are also done. PCOS cannot be cured but can be controlled and managed efficiently with an active lifestyle and healthy eating habits. If left unmanaged, it could result in diabetes, high blood pressure, and other health complications resulting in poor quality of life.
Both Endometriosis and PCOS have very similar symptoms and can be difficult to diagnose for untrained physicians. There are ways to control and manage both the conditions. The key to early identification of the conditions is awareness and regular health check-ups. This can also result in avoiding any complications that can arise from these diseases.
(Dr. Anshumala Shukla-Kulkarni, Gynaecologist, Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital and Medical Research Institute, Mumbai)
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