What is adenomyosis? What does it mean? Does it prevent pregnancy? What are the symptoms? Will it turn into cancer? Is there any herbal treatment? How is it treated? You can find the answers to all these questions below.
What is adenomyosis?
Adenomyosis , also known as adenomyosis , occurs when the tissue that normally lines the uterus (womb) (endometrial tissue) grows into the muscular wall of the uterus. The displaced tissue continues to move normally during each menstrual cycle. It can cause an enlarged uterus and painful, heavy menstrual periods.
The cause of adenomyosis is unknown, but the disease usually resolves after menopause. For women suffering from severe adenomyosis, hormonal treatments may be helpful. Removal of the uterus (hysterectomy) treats adenomyosis.
What causes adenomyosis?
The cause of adenomyosis is unknown. There are many theories, including:
- Invasive tissue growth: Some experts believe that adenomyosis results from direct invasion of endometrial cells from the lining of the uterus into the muscle that forms the uterine walls. Uterine incisions made during an operation such as a cesarean section can promote direct invasion of endometrial cells into the uterine wall.
- Developmental origins: Other experts consider such a problem to be present at the developmental stage for various reasons, when the uterus is first formed in the fetus.
- Birth-related uterine inflammation: Another theory suggests a link between adenomyosis and childbirth. Inflammation of the uterine lining during the postpartum period can cause a break in the normal border of cells surrounding the uterus. Surgical procedures on the uterus can cause a similar effect.
- Stem cell origins: A new theory proposes that bone marrow stem cells may invade the uterine muscle, causing adenomyosis.
Regardless of how adenomyosis develops, its growth is dependent on circulating estrogen in the female body.
Who is at risk?
Risk factors for adenomyosis include:
- Age: Although women of all ages can suffer from this problem, most women diagnosed are between the ages of 40 and 50.
- Pregnancy: A high percentage of women with adenomyosis have had multiple pregnancies.
- Uterine surgery: Previous surgery on the uterus, including a cesarean delivery, can significantly increase the risk of this disease.
Most cases of estrogen-related adenomyosis occur in women in their 40s and 50s. In these women, adenomyosis may be associated with longer exposure to estrogen compared to younger women. However, current research suggests that the condition may also be common in younger women.
What are the symptoms of adenomyosis?
It is a condition that varies widely between people, including the extent of the condition and the severity of symptoms. About one-third of women do not experience any symptoms, while for others, symptoms can get in the way of daily life.
Possible symptoms of adenomyosis are listed below:
- heavy menstrual bleeding
- pain during sexual intercourse
- non-menstrual bleeding
- worsening uterine cramps
- a delicate uterus
- Back and groin pain
- Feeling of pressure on the bladder and rectum
- pain in the gut
When should you see a doctor?
If you have prolonged, heavy bleeding or severe cramps during your menstrual periods that interfere with your regular activities, you should make an appointment to see your doctor.
How is adenomyosis diagnosed?
Your doctor may suspect adenomyosis based on:
- signs and symptoms
- Pelvic exam that reveals an enlarged, tender uterus
- Ultrasound imaging of the uterus
- Magnetic resonance imaging of the uterus
In some cases, your doctor may test a sample of uterine tissue ( endometrial biopsy ) to confirm whether your abnormal uterine bleeding is related to another serious condition . However, an endometrial biopsy will not help your doctor confirm a diagnosis of adenomyosis.
The only way to confirm adenomyosis is to examine the uterus after hysterectomy. However, pelvic imaging such as ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging can detect signs of it.
Other uterine diseases can cause adenomyosis-like symptoms, making adenomyosis difficult to diagnose. Conditions that complicate the diagnosis; fibroid tumors include uterine cells growing outside the uterus (endometriosis) and growths in the uterine lining (endometrial polyps).
Your doctor can only conclude whether you have an adenomyosis problem after ruling out other possible causes for your symptoms.
How is adenomyosis treated?
If you don’t get treatment, your disease may not go away and your symptoms may get worse.
If a woman has no symptoms, is not trying to get pregnant, or is approaching menopause, treatment may not be necessary. That’s because for most women entering menopause, all of the symptoms will go away.
However, there are many different treatment options for women with adenomyosis. These are listed below:
- Anti-inflammatory drugs: Your doctor may recommend anti-inflammatory drugs to control pain. By starting an anti-inflammatory medication one to two days before your period starts and taking it throughout your period, you can reduce blood flow and help relieve pain.
- Hormone medications: Birth control pills or hormone medications can reduce heavy bleeding and pain associated with adenomyosis.
- Uterine artery embolization: This involves placing a tube into the main artery in the groin and injecting small particles into the area affected by adenomyosis. This prevents blood circulation from reaching the affected area. When that happens, it will shrink adenomyosis and reduce symptoms.
- Hysterectomy: The only definitive treatment for adenomyosis is complete removal of the uterus. But it is not a good choice for women who still have a desire to become pregnant.
If you have frequent, prolonged, heavy bleeding during your menstrual periods, you may develop chronic anemia , which causes fatigue and other health problems .
While not harmful, the pain and excessive bleeding associated with adenomyosis can disrupt your lifestyle. You may avoid activities you enjoyed in the past because you may be in pain or worry that you may start bleeding.
Long-term outlook in adenomyosis
Adenomyosis is not a life-threatening condition. Many treatments are available to relieve your symptoms. Hysterectomy is the only treatment that can completely relieve symptoms. However, this condition usually goes away on its own after menopause.
Adenomyosis is not the same as endometriosis (chocolate cyst) . This condition occurs when endometrial tissues implant outside the uterus. Women with adenomyosis can also have or develop endometriosis.