It’s scary how common adenomyosis is and the painful impact it has on the lives of many women. What’s even scarier is the fact that you’re probably completely unaware of what adenomyosis is. Especially considering how common it is. It’s estimated that adenomyosis affects approximately 1 in 10 women of reproductive age. And, due to symptoms being similar to that of endometriosis and fibroids it’s commonly misdiagnosed. Thus, contributing to not being properly treated and contributing to further health complications.  So, what exactly is adenomyosis and what do you need to know about it?

 

What’s Adenomyosis?

Adenomyosis similar to endometriosis affects endometrial tissue within the uterus. In the case of adenomyosis endometrial tissue grows into the wall of the uterus. It can be found in one central location or throughout the uterus. Doctors and researchers do not know how or why adenomyosis happens. But, hormones, genetics, and the immune system may play a factor.

 Additionally, it’s suspected that uterine surgery such as fibroid removal or c-section can increase your risk of developing adenomyosis. This is based on the idea that as the body is healing post-surgery the tissue begins to grow in instead of out. Furthermore, adenomyosis was mostly considered to affect women in their late 40’s to 50’s. But, the increase of cases where women in their 20’s and 30’s are being diagnosed with adeno is proving this to be untrue. Approximately 20% of women diagnosed with adeno are younger than 40. Whereas 80% are 40-50 years old. 

Symptoms of Adenomyosis

Common symptoms associated with adenomyosis include: 

  • Spotting in between periods
  • Tenderness in the abdomen
  • Pre-menstrual pelvic pain and pelvic heaviness/discomfort
  • Heavy, painful, irregular periods
  • Prolonged menstrual cramps
  • Heavy menstrual bleeding
  • Long menstrual cycles
  • Painful intercourse
  • Pain during bowel movements
  • Fertility complications   

 

On the other hand, it’s also common to have adenomyosis and exhibit no symptoms. One-third of women diagnosed with adeno will not display any symptoms. But, there are common symptoms that may be overlooked such as heavy menstrual bleeding, painful periods, abnormal bleeding, and pain during intercourse.

pelvic pain is common with adenomyosis

 

The Negative Impact of Adenomyosis

There are a variety of ways that adenomyosis can negatively impact your health and well-being. From physical symptoms, fertility complications, as well as mental and emotional trauma. 

The Physical Impact of Adeno

Struggling with recurrent pelvic pain can interfere with your ability to perform basic daily tasks. Such as going to work, cooking, or even basic self-care tasks. Furthermore, heavy menstrual bleeding or abnormal bleeding can increase the risk of anemia and fatigue. Additionally, adenomyosis can increase complications with fertility. This includes recurrent miscarriages, premature birth, and infertility. 

The Mental and Emotional Impact of Adeno

Consequently, due to the disparity of symptoms amongst adeno sufferers diagnosis and treatment are challenging. Chronic pain, misdiagnosis, and failed treatments can influence depression and anxiety. While ongoing fertility complications can also contribute to the decline of mental and emotional health. 

 

Do You Suspect You Have Adenomyosis?

If you identify with the symptoms that I mentioned above. Or, you find that you’re having fertility complications. I encourage you to schedule an appointment with your OB/GYN and discuss your concerns. Share your menstrual, medical, sexual and reproductive health history openly. If you have family members that have adenomyosis discuss this with your doctor as well. Ask them to perform testing that could help identify if adenomyosis could be the root cause of it all.  Specifically discuss imaging tests such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or transvaginal ultrasound. 

 

Know Your Treatment Options

It’s important to have open and frank discussions with your doctor concerning treatment options. Which route you choose to take will depend on your desire to have children, prior treatments you’ve tried, and what you feel comfortable doing. But, as with anything, there are risks and benefits associated with all treatments. So, make sure you’re aware before rushing into any decision. 

Common treatments that are recommended for adenomyosis include

  • Medication to help with pain management
  • Hormonal birth control
  • Injection of hormones to induce false menopause
  • Surgery such as uterine artery embolization
  • Hysterectomy

Generally speaking, there is no cure for adenomyosis outside of getting a hysterectomy. Before going through with such a permanent decision and change make sure you weigh all your options. So, you can determine what option is best for you. 

 

Preserving Your Fertility

If you know that you want to have children in the future definitely look into speaking with a fertility specialist. They can provide insight into conservative treatments and surgery that can protect and increase your fertility odds. Furthermore, they can advise you on your alternative reproductive options such as intrauterine insemination (IUI), and in vitro fertilization (IVF). Additionally, working with a specialist that understands adenomyosis means they can properly treat it. Thus, positively impacting your fertility.  

nausea is a symptom of Adenomyosis

The More You Know

Adenomyosis can be a tricky disease to diagnose and spot. But increased awareness and proper diagnostic tools can prove helpful in early diagnosis. Additionally understanding the subtle differences between adeno, endo and fibroids is pertinent. Thus decreasing misdiagnosis and mistreatment. Learning about symptoms, and how to talk with your doctor and advocate for your health is crucial.  Especially since there are increasing instances of adenomyosis occurring in women younger than 40. 

 

Please hear me when I say painful periods are not normal. Like ever. Neither is recurrent pelvic pain, pain during sex, or abnormal vaginal bleeding. These are not symptoms you should ignore and take lightly. If you’re experiencing these symptoms schedule an appointment with your OB/GYN right away and get to the root cause. If you’re struggling to find a doctor to take you seriously don’t hesitate to find another one. And, keep searching until you do.  Your health and well-being are important. Always advocate for your health and listen to your body. Never feel ashamed to do so. 

 

 

About the Author 

women's health and wellness blogger

Hi, my name is Kathleen but you can call me Kat. I’m a health and wellness professional turned freelance writer and content creator.  You can find me on  YouTube and Instagram. If you take the opportunity to visit me on my other platforms don’t hesitate to leave a message, I would love to hear from you!

 

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References

Obstetrical & Gynecological Survey | The Impact of Adenomyosis on Women’s Fertility conducted by Tasuka Harada MD, PhD, DMSci; Yin Mon Khine MB, BS; Apostolos Kaponis MD, PhD; Theocharis Nikellis MD; George Decavalas MD, PhD; Fuminori Taniguchi MD, PhD published on September 12 2016 

HuffPost | What Is Adenomyosis? Experts Explain This Common Women’s Health Issue written by Jule Ries updated January 2020

Healthline | Adenomyosis written by Kristeen Moore and Jacquelyn Cafasso; medically reviewed by Daniel Murrell MD on April 20, 2017