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5 Differences Between PCOS and Fibroids

5 Minute Read
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Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and fibroids are two common reproductive conditions.

These two non-cancerous conditions might be easily confused. They are both various forms of irregular growth in the female reproductive system. Knowing the difference between PCOS and fibroids is important for diagnosis and treatment.

Before you meet with your Viva Eve specialist, understanding the differences between PCOS and fibroids is important. You will be able better communicate with your doctor about your symptoms. 

What’s the difference between PCOS and Fibroids? 

Fibroids and PCOS actually share some symptoms and can therefore make it challenging to diagnose. Our Viva Eve specialists are trained to go the extra step to ensure that each patient gets quality attention to arrive at a proper diagnosis.

If you are having irregular periods, painful periods, or difficulty with fertility, you should talk to your specialist about PCOS and fibroids differences. The differences include:

  1. 1. PCOS happens in the ovaries whereas fibroids are most commonly found in the uterus. 
  2. 2. Fibroids are non-cancerous tumors that grow in the uterine walls. These growths can become physical barriers in the uterus and can cause complications in pregnancy. They can also cause uterine discomfort. It is not uncommon for fibroids to grow to a point where they cause swelling in the abdomen. 
  3. 3. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder common among women of reproductive age.
  4. 4. Fibroids are very common, affecting up to 80% for black women and nearly 70% of white women by age 50. PCOS is less common, affecting between 5-10% of women.
  5. 5. PCOS is correlated with a hormonal imbalance, whereas fibroids grow for unknown reasons. If left untreated, PCOS can lead to diabetes and heart disease.

What are symptoms of PCOS? 

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome causes enlarged ovaries and small cysts which grow on the ovaries. It is common for someone with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome to have symptoms related to hormones like oily skin, irregular body hair growth, acne, no ovulation, or weight gain. 

Due to where these growths occur, it is common to have irregular or painful periods. So if you are experiencing any of the previous listed symptoms, you might want to talk to your doctor about PCOS. Symptoms like depression, anxiety, or eating disorders can also accompany PCOS. 

What are symptoms of Fibroids?

Fibroids symptoms can include irregular or heavy menstrual cycles just like PCOS. Other shared symptoms of  PCOS and fibroids are pelvic pain, heavy or irregular periods, and infertility. 

Fibroid symptoms also reflect what they are and where they are in the reproductive system. Fibroid symptoms include significant bloating in the abdominal area, pain during sex, an enlarged uterus, and frequent urination. 

Your Ob/Gyn can help you sort out the difference between PCOS and fibroids to determine which treatment you should pursue. 

How do you diagnose PCOS and Fibroids?

Only a medical professional can distinguish between PCOS and fibroids and offer a diagnosis. When you meet with a Viva Eve specialist, you will be fully heard and thoughtfully diagnosed. We start with a conversation about your medical history and symptoms. Depending on what your specialist finds, they may run certain tests. 

If your doctor suspects PCOS, they will check blood pressure and glucose tolerance. They might want to perform a physical exam to check for extra body hair. They’ll likely perform some tests to rule out other potential causes like thyroid or glandular problems. At some point, your Ob/Gyn will want to perform a pelvic exam to see if there are any cysts on the ovaries. 

If your doctor suspects fibroids to be the cause of your discomfort, they may administer various pelvic exams and screenings, like an ultrasound or an MRI, to form a more detailed picture of the uterus.

What’s the difference between PCOS and Fibroids treatment? 

The differences between fibroids and PCOS are important to discuss with your specialist. That way, you are presented with the appropriate treatment options best for you. While certain medications, like birth control, can help with symptoms of both fibroids and PCOS, more in-depth procedures might be needed to treat severe symptoms. 

At Viva Eve, we have several options for fibroid treatment. 

  • Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) is a non-invasive treatment option that avoids both hormonal treatments and surgical procedures. 
  • Fibroid hormone treatments can slow the growth and shrink the size of fibroids. While this isn’t a long term solution, it can greatly minimize symptoms and discomfort. 
  • A Hysterectomy is a major medical procedure that involves removing the uterus. Our specialists typically do not recommend this treatment as a first option, even though it is a permanent solution.  
  • A Myomectomy is a major surgical procedure. In this procedure the uterus is left alone and only the fibroids are removed. 

Viva Eve specialists are also highly qualified to treat PCOS and might recommend some of the following treatment options.

  • Lifestyle changes such as monitoring diet, quitting smoking, exercise, or joining a PCOS support group are all helpful ways to treat and manage PCOS.
  • Birth control pills or hormone treatments can regulate symptoms.
  • Surgery to remove ovarian cysts is a more invasive procedure. 

There are many more options to treat the symptoms of PCOS or fibroids and they will be unique to each patient. To make a plan to relieve your own discomfort, talk with your Viva Eve specialist.