Adenomyosis: What Women Need to Know About This Painful Condition of the Uterus by Samantha Bowick
April is Adenomyosis Awareness Month. Adenomyosis is an illness that affects the uterus. It occurs when endometrial tissue is found in the muscular wall of the uterus. Adenomyosis often goes hand in hand with other illnesses such as endometriosis, so it can be difficult to tell which symptoms go with each illness.
Endometriosis occurs when tissue similar to the uterine lining is found outside of the uterus in places like fallopian tubes, ovaries and bowels, and the only way to truly diagnose it is through surgery. So it’s safe to say adenomyosis happens inside of the uterus while endometriosis occurs outside of the uterus, and the tissue is different.
The only true way to diagnose adenomyosis is by performing a hysterectomy and having tissue samples from the uterus sent to pathology for testing. As of this time, there is no definitive cause for adenomyosis. Imaging such as MRI or ultrasound can sometimes show adenomyosis.
Here are the symptoms of adenomyosis:
- Heavy periods/irregular periods
- Painful, debilitating periods – periods leaving you at home in bed missing school, work and other activities
- Blood clots that pass during period
- Enlarged uterus
- Chronic pelvic pain
- Painful intercourse
Here are the treatment options for suspected adenomyosis:
- Pain medications (Percocet, Tramadol, Dilaudid, etc.)
- Hormones (birth controls, progesterone, etc.)
- Anti-inflammatory medications (Ibuprofen, Aleve, etc.)
The only cure for adenomyosis is to have a hysterectomy, which is removal of the uterus. Once this is done, the woman cannot become pregnant even if she keeps her ovaries. During a hysterectomy, the patient can choose if she would like to keep one or both ovaries or have them both removed.
Adenomyosis is said to be a rare illness, but this is probably because of how difficult it seems to diagnose as well as doctors and the public not being aware of the condition. It is common for adenomyosis to be misdiagnosed as uterine fibroids, benign tumors growing into the uterine wall. Adenomyosis is not any form of tumor.
If you think you could have adenomyosis, talk to your doctor about possible imaging and/or surgery to diagnose and treatment options to help relieve some of your symptoms. Getting a diagnosis as soon as possible can be helpful in your treatment plan.
Be sure to wear purple to show your support to those who have adenomyosis!
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