There are many conditions that can affect the uterus. One lesser-known yet still fairly common disease is adenomyosis. Discover what the condition entails and how it’s treated below.
What Is Adenomyosis?
Adenomyosis occurs when tissue from the uterus lining grows through the uterine wall but still within the uterus itself. This can cause the uterus to become enlarged, sometimes increasing by double or triple its normal size. The new tissue growing into the muscular wall of the organ continues to act as normal uterine tissue, thickening then breaking down and bleeding during each menstrual cycle.
This is similar to what occurs in endometriosis, with the main difference being that in cases of endometriosis, uterine lining tissue grows outside of the uterus, typically around the fallopian tubes, ovaries, and other organs in the pelvis.
What Are the Symptoms?
Up to a third of people with adenomyosis won’t experience symptoms. For those that do, the symptoms can range in severity from mild to intense. If you have adenomyosis, you may experience painful menstrual cramps and heavy bleeding during periods, painful intercourse, pelvic pain, bloating, and abnormal periods.
What Causes Adenomyosis?
Researchers aren’t sure why some people experience adenomyosis and others don’t. Some theories suggest invasive tissue growth could result from operations performed on the uterus, such as C-sections. Others believe the condition may be a congenital anomaly, while another theory posits that exposure to increased estrogen for a long period of time may be the culprit.
Regardless of the possible causes, there are several factors that make you more likely to experience adenomyosis, including:
- Having endometriosis
- Having prior uterine surgeries, including fibroid removal or dilation and curettage
- Having given birth more than once
- Being between the ages of 40 and 50
How Is It Treated?
Adenomyosis can be diagnosed through physical exams and medical imaging, such as an ultrasound or MRI. Once the condition is confirmed, there are several treatment options our providers can discuss with you.
Hormonal birth control such as the pill or hormonal intrauterine devices (IUDs) are often the first line of defense against adenomyosis. These medications can often help to control symptoms like heavy bleeding and cramping after several months.
If you prefer not to take hormonal birth control or need to avoid it for medical reasons, tranexamic acid may be an alternative to consider. This non-hormonal medication helps to control heavy bleeding and is taken only during your period.
While medication can help to control the symptoms of adenomyosis, a hysterectomy is the only way to stop the condition entirely. Though some women do experience symptom relief after menopause, when the symptoms begin to affect your quality of life or interfere with your normal activities, this surgical intervention may be worth considering.
In some cases, it may be possible to remove only the uterus, while other cases may call for the removal of both the uterus and cervix. Since this procedure removes the womb, it eliminates the ability to carry children, and should therefore only be considered by people who don’t wish to become pregnant in the future.
Depending on the nature of your condition, you may be able to have a hysterectomy performed laparoscopically, which involves only small incisions and a shorter recovery period.
If you’re experiencing heavy periods or any other women’s health issues, turn to Avant Gynecology for compassionate care. Our team offers a wide range of treatment options, including specialty services such as hormone therapy, surgical care, and office procedures. Request an appointment online or by calling 404-352-2850.