Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and fibroids are two common reproductive disorders with similar signs and symptoms; however, they’re not alike in terms of severity and associated risk factors. They’re linked to abnormal growth of cysts at different female reproductive organs such as ovaries, pelvis, and tubes. Both PCOS and uterine fibroids disrupt the regular menstrual cycle and cause hormonal imbalance, pelvic pain, and infertility.
According to research, PCOS can be associated with up to 65% increased risk of uterine fibroids in African-American women. Let’s have a look at how PCOS and fibroids can be differentiated!
What are Uterine Fibroids?
Uterine fibroids or uterine leiomyomata are the most frequent reason behind hysterectomy (a surgical procedure to remove the womb/uterus) in women. Data reveals that black and white women in the United States may develop uterine fibroids before menopause and the incidence rate is higher in black women.
Usually, fibroids are non-cancerous or benign tumors that develop inside the smooth muscle tissues of the uterus. Its most common signs may include severe pelvic pain and uterine bleeding. They’re more likely to develop in or outside the uterus with varied sizes and shapes.
Causes or Risks for Fibroids
- Family history of fibroids induces a triggering role in causing fibroids. Women whose mothers or sisters have fibroids are more likely to suffer from this disorder.
- Early puberty or Menstruation cycle
- Ethnicity as African-Americans have more chances to develop fibroids
- Obesity with a sedentary lifestyle is also a greater risk for fibroids development
- Imbalanced and unhealthy diet
- Hormonal disturbance and an increased level of estrogen and progesterone
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome or PCOS
PCOS is a hormonal disorder in women most likely to cause infertility and deterioration of the reproductive system. About 1 in 10 women in the United States develop PCOS at some stage. Irregular menstruation, abdominal bloating, hormonal imbalance, and cysts in the ovaries are the most common indicators of this disorder.
Causes or Risks of PCOS
- Obesity with a sedentary lifestyle
- Low-grade inflammation
- Genetics or family history
- Unhealthy diet
- High levels of insulin and androgen hormone in the body
- Irregular menstruation cycle
Symptomatic Differences between PCOS and Fibroids
Fibroids and PCOS appear at different locations, i.e., fibroids in or outside the uterine walls while PCOS in ovaries. However, it’s quite challenging to self-diagnose the problem due to many similarities in their symptoms. So, you must visit your gynecologist for proper diagnosis and the best possible treatment options.
It’s crucial to make an appointment with a professional if you’re suffering from any of the above PCOS and fibroid symptoms. You shouldn’t ignore menstrual pain, irregular periods, and fertility problems. Women tend to consider uncomfortable symptoms as something they must endure. However, it is not a healthy practice.
Can PCOS Increase the Risk of Uterine Fibroids?
PCOS and uterine fibroids are not directly linked; however, they may have some symptomatic similarities that may cause their misdiagnosis. However, remember that these two diseases are separate reproductive health issues.
PCOS is more likely to occur in the 20s or 30s, while the risk of fibroids elevates after 30 years of age. It’s also possible that you suffer from PCOS or fibroids simultaneously but not necessarily.
According to a study, a polycystic ovary may affect uterine blood flow, causing its deteriorated texture and functionality. However, PCOS doesn’t have a direct link to fibroids formation.
According to research, women with PCOS had a 65 percent higher prevalence of fibroids than women without the condition. Why? According to one idea, estrogen levels increase when androgens interfere with the production and proper release of eggs. And when estrogen level rises, fibroids become more probable.
How to Self-manage or Control PCOS and Fibroids?
As mentioned earlier, both diseases are associated with hormonal imbalance and thus can be efficiently managed or controlled by following some natural ways. The most effective tips are:
- Pay attention to balancing your hormones
- Use foods and drinks that can shrink the size of fibroids or reduce the risk of cyst formation (also read the article: healthy drinks to shrink fibroids)
- Stop taking unhealthy foods such as alcoholic beverages, processed or fast food
- Do at least 30 minutes of daily walk, yoga, or exercise (Also read the article: Yoga Asanas for PCOS)
- Take a healthy sleep of about 6-8 hours a day
- Control your blood sugar level
- Fight with depression or anxiety
- Take multivitamins suggested by your healthcare advisor
- Track your menstruation and ovulation cycle
What Happens if PCOS or Fibroids remain Untreated?
Iron deficiency anemia is one of the main effects of untreated fibroids. The most prominent cause of anemia is blood loss, as iron levels in red blood cells can frequently drop, leading to fatigue and other major health issues. In addition to anemia and infertility, untreated uterine fibroids can also cause:
- Frequent constipation
- Severe pelvic pain and bloating
- Weight gain especially increased belly fat
- Prolonged and heavy menstruation bleeding
- Acute cramping
According to current medical opinion, there is no conclusive link between PCOS and uterine fibroids. Although their symptoms may overlap and both result from hormonal imbalance, they don’t necessarily seem connected. They are different disorders with different complications and treatments.
Both are only diagnosed when a routine pelvic exam, ultrasound, or MRI. Consult your gynecologist for infertility or other symptoms such as severe bleeding, pelvic pain or pressure, or pain during sexual activity so that your symptoms can be thoroughly evaluated.