Adenomyosis is a condition where the endometrial tissue grows into the muscular wall of the uterus. This tissue, usually lines the inside of the uterus and starts encroaching the muscle wall of the uterus. Let’s learn more about this painful condition from the following paragraphs.
What is Adenomyosis?
Adenomyosis is a term that means ‘adeno’ - gland, ‘myo’ - muscle and ‘osis’ - condition. This means the cells of the uterus that line the inside of the womb start growing on the muscular wall of the uterus. This condition is quite common in women late in the childbearing age or even occur in those who have had children years ago. This means women between the age bracket of 35 to 50 years often develop adenomyosis.
Adenomyosis often occurs silently with no or very mild symptoms. For some, it just leads to a mild discomfort. However, in some cases, the condition leads to:
- Dysmenorrhea that is painful periods
- Hypermenorrhea that is very heavy discharge during periods
- Abdominal cramps
- Passing large clots
- Abdominal bloating
- Back pain
- Long bleeding cycles
- Severe abdominal pain that continues to increase throughout the month
- Pain during intercourse
- Feeling ‘bearing down’
- Pressure on the bladder
- A sensation of dragging on the thighs and legs
Complications of Adenomyosis
Adenomyosis leads to complications such as:
- Anxiety and depression in some cases
- Increase incidence of preterm labor and premature rupture of the membranes
- Increase risk of anemia
What Causes It?
The exact cause of adenomyosis is unknown. It can occur may be due to some kind of uterine trauma during a cesarean section, pregnancy termination, tubal ligation or pregnancy. This trauma can cause breakage of the barrier between the endometrium and myometrium, leading to growth of endometrial cells in the muscular wall of the uterus.
Diagnosis of Adenomyosis
The doctor may note down the symptoms and carry out a pelvic examination to find an enlarged, tender uterus. An ultrasound sonography will be conducted to observe the uterus. Transvaginal ultrasound is the most common diagnostic tests carried out to create images of the uterus for diagnosis. In some cases, an MRI will be suggested for further imaging of the uterus.
The doctor may even ask for a biopsy of the uterine cells to make sure it is just adenomyosis and nothing serious. Adenomyosis symptoms are similar to fibroid tumors, endometrial polyps, endometriosis or endometrial carcinoma. Thus, only after conducting diagnostic tests, the doctor will determine if the condition is adenomyosis and treat accordingly.
Treatment for Adenomyosis
Adenomyosis is often fully cured after proper treatment. The management of adenomyosis depends on the severity and the stage of the condition. Some of the treatment methods include:
- Use of anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen to control the pain
- Hormonal medications like estrogen-progestin oral contraceptives or hormone-containing patches or vaginal rings that help reduce the heavy bleeding
- Use of progestin-only contraceptives or intrauterine devices that help induce amenorrhea, that is, absence of periods will help provide relief to many from the monthly pain and discomfort
- In cases where one wants to get pregnant in the future, hysterectomy is not the option. Thus, they are suggested endometrial ablation, uterine artery embolization, etc. to save the uterus and get rid of the abnormal tissues
- In severe cases, hysterectomy, that is, removal of uterus surgically, is the only option to control adenomyosis, especially in women who are years away from menopause
Adenomyosis does not lead to increase in risk for cancer development in the affected person. However, it could appear along with endometrial adenocarcinoma.
Adenomyosis can often fool you by mimicking the symptoms of uterine fibroids. Thus, make sure you visit an experienced gynecologist who will conduct proper tests and diagnose the correct condition
Written by: healthplus24.com team
Date last updated: January 30, 2015