Adenomyosis (ad-uh-no-my-O-sis) occurs when endometrial tissue, which normally lines the uterus, exists within and grows into the muscular wall of the uterus. This happens most often late in your childbearing years after having children.
Adenomyosis differs from endometriosis — a condition in which the uterine lining becomes implanted outside the uterus — although women with adenomyosis often also have endometriosis. The cause of adenomyosis remains unknown, but the disease typically disappears after menopause. For women who experience severe discomfort from adenomyosis, certain treatments can help, but hysterectomy is the only cure.
With adenomyosis, the same tissue that lines the uterus (endometrial tissue) is present within and grows into the muscular walls of your uterus. ...
Sometimes, adenomyosis is silent — causing no signs or symptoms — or only mildly uncomfortable. In other cases, adenomyosis may cause:
Your uterus may double or triple in size. Although you might not know if your uterus is enlarged, you may notice that your lower abdomen seems bigger or feels tender.
When to see a doctor
The cause of adenomyosis isn't known. Expert theories about a possible cause include:
Regardless of how adenomyosis develops, its growth depends on the circulating estrogen in a woman's body. When estrogen production decreases at menopause, adenomyosis eventually goes away.
Risk factors for adenomyosis include:
Most cases of adenomyosis, which depends on estrogen, are found in women in their 40s and 50s, with a low incidence after menopause. Finding adenomyosis in middle-aged women could relate to longer exposure to estrogen compared with that of younger women.
Although not harmful, the pain and excessive bleeding associated with adenomyosis can have a negative effect on your lifestyle. You may find yourself avoiding activities that you previously enjoyed because you have no idea when or where you might start bleeding. Painful periods can cause you to miss work or school and can strain relationships. Recurring pain can lead to depression, irritability, anxiety, anger and feelings of helplessness. That's why it's important to seek medical evaluation if you suspect you may have adenomyosis.
If you experience prolonged, heavy bleeding, chronic anemia may result.
Preparing for your appointment
Your first appointment will be with either your primary care physician or your gynecologist. To save time and make sure you cover everything you want to discuss, it's a good idea to prepare for your appointment.
What you can do
For adenomyosis, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
If you don't understand something, ask your doctor to repeat the information, or ask follow-up questions.
What to expect from your doctor
Tests and diagnosis
Your doctor may suspect adenomyosis based on:
In some instances, your doctor may take a biopsy of endometrial tissue — a sample of cells from your uterine lining for testing — to verify that your abnormal uterine bleeding isn't associated with any other serious condition. However, such a biopsy won't help your doctor confirm a diagnosis of adenomyosis. The only way to be certain of adenomyosis is to examine uterine tissue using a microscope after removal of the uterus (hysterectomy).
Many women have other uterine diseases that cause signs and symptoms similar to adenomyosis, making adenomyosis more difficult to diagnose. Such conditions include fibroid tumors (leiomyomas), uterine cells growing outside the uterus (endometriosis) and growths in the uterine lining (endometrial polyps). Your doctor may diagnose adenomyosis only after he or she determines there are no other causes for your signs and symptoms.
Treatments and drugs
Adenomyosis usually goes away after menopause, so treatment may depend on how close you are to that stage of life.
Treatment options for adenomyosis include:
Lifestyle and home remedies
If cramping and pelvic pain related to adenomyosis bother you, try these self-care measures:
Last Updated: 2012-06-07
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