Adenomyosis is a medical condition where the endometrium (inner lining of the uterus) breaks through the muscular wall of the uterus (myometrium). It can cause lower abdominal pressure, menstrual cramps, and bloating before menstruation. It can also contribute to heavy menstrual periods. Adenomyosis can be localized in one spot, or it can be located throughout the uterus. Though it is considered not life threatening, the massive bleeding and frequent pain it causes can negatively affect a woman’s quality of life.
Causes of Adenomyosis
The exact cause of Adenomyosis is unknown, but there are several theories about its possible causes.
- Invasive tissue growth—this theory suggests that a direct invasion of the endometrial cells occurs from the uterine lining into the muscle that forms the walls of the uterus
- Developmental origin—this theory suggests that Adenomyosis may originate in the uterine muscle from the tissue of the endometrium that is deposited there when the fetus is first formed
- Uterine inflammation after childbirth—this theory proposes that an inflammation of the lining of the uterus during the postpartum period may break the boundary of the cells that line the uterus. Also, surgery in the uterus may produce such an effect
- Stem cell origins—a recent theory suggests that stem cells of the bone marrow may invade the muscle of the uterus causing this condition
Despite how Adenomyosis develops, how it grows depends on how the estrogen hormone circulates in a woman’s body. When the production of estrogen reduces at menopause, Adenomyosis eventually disappears.
Symptoms of Adenomyosis
Sometimes Adenomyosis is silent, producing no signs and symptoms. However, in other cases, it causes:
- Heavy and prolonged menstruation
- Severe cramping or sharp pelvic pain during menstrual periods
- Menstrual cramps that last throughout your periods and worsen as you grow older
- Pain when having sex
- Blood clots in your menstrual flow
Your uterus might become enlarged and your lower abdomen bigger and tender.
Several factors may contribute to you developing Adenomyosis. These include:
- Middle age
- Prior surgery of the uterus such as removal of fibroids or C-section
Most Adenomyosis cases are diagnosed in women aged between 40 and 58. In middle-aged women, it may be related to longer exposure to estrogen.
Treatment for Adenomyosis may depend on how close you are to menopause and the options include:
- Anti-inflammatory medications—if you are near menopause, your doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen (Motrin IB, Advil, etc.). Taking these drugs two days before your periods and continuing during the periods reduces your menstrual flow and pain
- Hormone medications—using hormone-containing patches, combined estrogen-progestin pills, or vaginal rings may lower your menstrual flow and pain
- Hysterectomy—if you are not near menopause, and your pain is severe, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove your uterus (hysterectomy)
Adenomyosis is not a life-threatening condition. The primary cause is not known, but there are several treatment options depending on your age. If you develop the above symptoms, seek medical help as soon as possible.
Doctor Sherry Thomas is a world-renowned urogynecologist who specializes in women’s health issues. She can work with you to determine causes and treatments of your Adenomyosis. Contact Dr. Sherry Thomas’s office today to schedule your consultation.