Adenomyosis is a condition in which the uterine lining (endometrium) grows into the wall of the uterus. While many women are unaware of the condition, it’s actually fairly common.
In a recent study of women who underwent hysterectomies, adenomyosis was present in almost 90% of cases, while among the general population, the rate is estimated to be 20-35%.
At the Center for Urogynecology and Advanced Laparoscopic Surgery, board-certified OB/GYN Rafael J. Perez, MD, FACOG, uses state-of-the-art testing to diagnose adenomyosis, coupled with advanced treatments to relieve its symptoms.
In this post, Dr. Perez reviews some of the signs that could indicate you have adenomyosis, so you can seek treatment as soon as possible.
Quick facts about adenomyosis
Adenomyosis is similar to another gynecological condition called endometriosis. Both conditions involve the endometrium, the tissue that lines the uterus.
In endometriosis, this tissue grows outside the uterus, causing a variety of uncomfortable symptoms. In adenomyosis, the endometrium grows into the muscular wall of the uterus (called the myometrium).
Adenomyosis (and endometriosis) symptoms are worse during your child-bearing years and tend to wane during menopause, after your periods stop.
While researchers don’t know what causes adenomyosis, they believe it may occur when the boundary between the endometrium and myometrium is disrupted, possibly the result of injury or a medical procedure, displacing endometrial cells or allowing them to migrate to the inner tissue.
As the endometrial cells grow, they cause the uterus to enlarge and thicken.
If we suspect adenomyosis, we use diagnostic imaging to evaluate the uterus, including the endometrium and the myometrium. Medical professionals most often use transvaginal ultrasound to confirm or rule out adenomyosis, but depending on your medical history and other factors, we may order other imaging tests, as well.
Signs and symptoms to look for
Adenomyosis can cause a lot of pain in your lower belly, especially during or around your periods.
That’s because during your period, your endometrium undergoes changes before being sloughed off. At the same time, the endometrial tissue growing in your uterine wall undergoes the same changes, causing painful cramps or aching.
In fact, most women with adenomyosis seek treatment because of uncomfortable, recurrent symptoms. These can include:
- Painful menstrual cramps
- Heavy menstrual bleeding
- Changes in their periods
- Pain during intercourse
- Pelvic pain
- Bloating or fullness in the lower belly
- Difficulty conceiving
- Anemia from heavy blood loss
As many as a third of women who have adenomyosis don’t have any noticeable symptoms.
While these symptoms are common with adenomyosis and endometriosis, other problems can cause similar symptoms, too, including cancer. Having a medical evaluation early helps determine what’s causing your symptoms so we treat the underlying cause appropriately.
Adenomyosis treatment depends in part on the severity of your symptoms, your desire to have more children, and whether your symptoms are interfering with your ability to conceive. Options include:
- Hormonal medications to manage estrogen levels
- Medication for pain and inflammation
- Medications to reduce excessive menstrual bleeding
- Surgery to remove endometrial growths in your myometrium
- Hysterectomy to remove your uterus
We review all your options during your office visit, so you can select the option that’s right for you.
Learn what’s causing your symptoms
If you’re having pelvic pain, changes in your period, or any other unusual symptom, don’t ignore it. A medical evaluation can help determine the cause, so you can get treatment to help you feel better and prevent complications.
To learn more about adenomyosis and its treatment, call 305-240-6047 to book an appointment with Dr. Perez and our team at the Center for Urogynecology and Advanced Laparoscopic Surgery in South Miami, Florida, today.