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The Difference Between PCOS And Endometriosis, Explained By Doctors

In the world of reproductive conditions that can be tough to diagnose, two tend to get the most attention: polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and endometriosis. While you’ve probably at least heard of both of these conditions, you might be fuzzy on the details. And, with that, it’s easy to confuse the two.

It’s important to know that it’s not rare to have either one of these health issues. “These are two relatively common gynecological conditions,” says Taraneh Shirazian, MD, an ob-gyn with NYU Langone Health. PCOS affects one in 10 women of childbearing age, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health (OWH). Endometriosis is slightly more common, impacting more than 11 percent of women between the ages of 15 and 44, according to the OWH.

Both conditions are notoriously tough to diagnose, given that their symptoms could be caused by a range of different issues, says Jessica Shepherd, MD, an ob-gyn in Texas. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible for a doctor to make the right diagnosis—it just can take a little more time and detective work than with some other conditions.

But, while both PCOS and endometriosis have some characteristics and symptoms in common, they’re not the same. “They’re very distinct, different conditions,” Dr. Shirazian notes. Here’s what you need to know about the differences between PCOS and endometriosis.

What exactly is PCOS?

What it is: PCOS is a health problem caused by an imbalance of reproductive hormones, the OWH says. That hormonal imbalance creates problems in the ovaries, which make an egg that’s released each month as part of a menstrual cycle. When you have PCOS, the egg might be develop the way it should or it might not be released during ovulation, the OWH says.

The most common symptoms:

  • Irregular periods
  • Excess hair growth on the face, chest, abdomen, or upper thighs
  • Severe acne, or acne that doesn’t respond to typical treatments
  • Oily skin
  • Patches of thick, velvety, darkened skin
  • Ovarian cysts

    What is endometriosis?

    What it is: Endometriosis, also commonly referred to as simply “endo,” happens when the endometrium, the tissue that normally lines the uterus, grows outside of the uterus and on other areas in your body where it doesn’t belong, according to the OWH. Endometriosis tissue growth is most commonly found on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, tissues that hold the uterus in place, and the outer surface of the uterus, although it can also show up on the vagina, cervix, vulva, bowel, bladder, or rectum, too.

    Endometriosis implants respond to changes in the female hormone estrogen, and the implants may grow and bleed like the uterine lining does during your period, ACOG says. That can cause the surrounding tissue to become irritated, inflamed, and swollen.

    The most common symptoms:

    • Chronic pelvic pain, especially before and during your period
    • Pain during sex
    • Pain when you poop
    • Pain when you pee
    • Heavy bleeding during your period

      Worth noting: Many women with endometriosis don’t have symptoms, according to

      Medicare vs. Medicaid: What Is the Difference? | Health Insurance

      ALTHOUGH THEY WERE BORN ON THE SAME DAY, Medicare and Medicaid are not identical twins. And even though they have been around for 55 years, many people still confuse these government-backed two healthcare programs.

      On July 30, 1965, President Lyndon Johnson signed the laws that created Medicare and Medicaid as part of his Great Society programs to address poverty, inequality, hunger and education issues. Both Medicare and Medicaid offer health care support, but they do so in very different ways and mostly to different constituencies.

      According to the Medicare Rights Center:

      • Medicare is a federal program that provides health coverage to those age 65 and older, or to those under 65 who have a disability, with no regard to personal income.
      • Medicaid is a combined state and federal program that provides health coverage to those who have a very low income, regardless of age.

      Some people may be eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid, known as dually eligible, and can qualify for both programs. The two programs work together to provide health coverage and lower costs, the MRC says. And although Medicare and Medicaid are both health insurance programs administered by the government, there are differences in the services they cover and in the ways costs are shared.

      Medicare is a federal health insurance program. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, the program pays medical bills from trust funds that working people have paid into during their employment. It offers essentially the same coverage and costs everywhere in the United States and is overseen by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), an agency of the federal government.

      Medicare is designed primarily to serve people over 65, whatever their income, and younger disabled people and dialysis patients who are diagnosed with end-stage renal disease (permanent kidney failure requiring dialysis or transplant). Patients pay a portion of their medical costs through deductibles for hospital and other services. They also pay small monthly premiums for non-hospital coverage.

      Medicare has two parts. Part A covers hospital care, and Part B covers other services like doctor’s appointments, outpatient treatment and other medical expenses. HHS says you are eligible for premium-free Part A if you are age 65 or older and you or your spouse worked and paid Medicare taxes for at least 10 years. You can get Part A at age 65 without having to pay premiums if:

      • You receive retirement benefits or are eligible to receive benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board.
      • You or your spouse had Medicare-covered government employment.

      If you are under age 65, you can get Part A without having to pay premiums if:

      • You have been entitled to Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board disability benefits for 24 months.
      • You are a kidney dialysis or kidney transplant patient.

      HHS says that most people do not have to pay a premium for Part A, but everyone must pay a premium for Part B. This is deducted monthly from your Social Security, railroad