There are many conditions that can affect your uterus, but one of the most prevalent is a condition you may have never heard of: adenomyosis.
In this blog, Ulas Bozdogan, MD, of Advanced Endometriosis Center in New York City and Hackensack, New Jersey, explains what adenomyosis is, what its symptoms are, and how it can be treated.
Lining the inside walls of your uterus is your endometrial tissue, which we also call the endometrium. This tissue thickens with each menstrual cycle as it prepares to receive a fertilized egg. Should no egg arrive, this tissue sloughs off and exits, which is what creates your period.
With adenomyosis, the endometrial tissue grows into the walls of your uterus. As a result, your uterus can enlarge and thicken, sometimes even 2-3 times its normal size, though this isn’t very common.
The symptoms of adenomyosis
The reason why researchers say that adenomyosis may affect between 20-65% of females is because the condition often doesn’t present any symptoms.
Should the condition become severe enough to cause symptoms, you may experience:
- Painful periods (excessive cramping known as dysmenorrhea)
- Heavy periods (menorrhagia)
- Abnormal periods
- Pelvic pain or pressure
- Pain during intercourse (dyspareunia)
The severity of the symptoms depends on the extent of the encroachment of your endometrial tissue into the walls of your uterus.
The causes of adenomyosis
We’re still not exactly sure what causes adenomyosis, but data shows that the problem tends to occur in women who have been pregnant before. Other risk factors for adenomyosis include age — women who are approaching menopause — and whether you’ve previously had surgery on your uterus, such as a C-section or fibroid removal.
As we mentioned, adenomyosis usually doesn’t cause symptoms, which means the issue often goes undiagnosed. Even if we spot potential adenomyosis during a routine pelvic exam or an ultrasound, we may only recommend watchful monitoring if you aren’t experiencing any symptoms.
In point of fact, there’s no way for us to truly identify adenomyosis unless we remove your uterus and study the tissue under a microscope.
If the problem causes serious quality-of-life issues, such as heavy and/or painful periods or pelvic pain, we typically recommend a hysterectomy, or removal of your uterus. We’ve found that this approach to symptomatic adenomyosis is often the only way to find permanent relief.
You can rest assured that Dr. Bozdogan has extensive experience performing hysterectomies, and he uses only the most advanced technology available, including the da Vinci system.
Fortunately, when adenomyosis becomes symptomatic, it typically occurs in your 40s or 50s, by which time you may be through having children.
If you have more questions about adenomyosis, book an appointment online or over the phone with Advanced Endometriosis Center today.