Adenomyosis. What is it?
Adenomyosis is like the ugly sister of Endometriosis and can be equally as brutal. It’s a condition where the inner lining of the uterus (the endometrium) grows into the muscular wall of the uterus (the myometrium). This tissue then continues to act like normal, as if nothing is abnormal about this process, thickening, breaking down and bleeding during each menstrual cycle. An enlarged uterus = painful, heavy periods which = another bitch for us women to handle!
Facts about Adeno
· Around 1 in 10 women have adenomyosis
· Can occur in any woman who still has periods, most common in women aged 40-50 and in women who have had children
· Menorrhagia (abnormally heavy or prolonged bleeding) and dysmenorrhea (painful periods) are associated with severe forms of adenomyosis. At times, cramping can be as severe as the last stage of labour.
· Most commonly affects the posterior wall of the uterus
· Can be focal (localized to one area) or diffuse (spread throughout the uterine muscle)
*Facts from adenofighters.com
Symptoms of Adenomyosis
Much like Endometriosis, this condition is extremely hard to diagnose. The only definitive way to confirm adenomyosis is to examine the uterus after hysterectomy. Pelvic imaging such as Ultrasound and MRI can detect signs of it, as can a laparoscopy (which is how mine was diagnosed whilst having my endometriosis removed). It can show a very angry and inflamed uterus which gives it a pretty good idea that it is adeno.
These symptoms are commonly experienced by women with adenomyosis, but please remember not all women will experience all of these. The most common are pelvic pain and heavy menstrual bleeding.
· Painful menstrual bleeding
· Heavy menstrual bleeding
· Prolonged menstrual bleeding (8-14 days)
· Passing large blood clots
· Severe cramping, knifelike pelvic pain during menstruation
· Painful bowel movements
· Pain during sex
Around one third of women will not have any symptoms. Much like endometriosis, this condition can be diagnosed as many others such as IBS which does not help.
Causes of Adenomyosis
Again, much like endometriosis, the causes of Adenomyosis aren’t known. There have been many theories such as:
· Invasive tissue growth - Some experts believe that adenomyosis results from the 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 caesarean section (C-section) might promote the direct invasion of the endometrial cells into the wall of the uterus.
· Developmental origins - Other experts suspect that adenomyosis originates within the uterine muscle from endometrial tissue deposited there when the uterus first formed in the foetus.
· Uterine inflammation related to childbirth - Another theory suggests a link between adenomyosis and childbirth. Inflammation of the uterine lining during the postpartum period might cause a break in the normal boundary of cells that line the uterus. Surgical procedures on the uterus can have a similar effect.
· Stem cell origins - A recent theory proposes that bone marrow stem cells might invade the uterine muscle, causing adenomyosis.
The good news is, there is a bit of hope as this does have a cure and tends to go away after menopause! Admittedly, it’s a very drastic one, a hysterectomy (removal of your uterus), removing your ovaries isn’t necessary. If this isn’t an option for you in your stage of life, there are ways to alleviate symptoms such as hormone medications and anti-inflammatory drugs.
Adenomyosis and the havoc it can cause
This little devil is much like endometriosis in the fact that due to it not being a visible illness, it can really make you feel very isolated and slightly mad! We will be posting further articles on how this affects women and their lives. We want you to know that we are here for you and support you. You are not alone and we want to help women suffering, so please do reach out and connect with us.
*Information taken from the official NHS website