Having an enlarged uterus can be due to various underlying issues. Some of the most common being fibroids and certain reproductive cancers. But, there’s one condition that contributes to an enlarged uterus that doesn’t get much attention. That condition is adenomyosis and the month of April is when diagnosees’ and advocates alike spread awareness regarding how it impacts a woman’s health and well-being. And, one such way that it does this is by causing complications that contribute to the uterus becoming enlarged. Thus, creating pain, discomfort and multiple unpleasant symptoms. Yet, many of these symptoms can easily be confused with other conditions such as fibroids. Or, even worse many women ignore these symptoms because they’re either too ashamed to talk about them. Or, they don’t believe they’re that serious and consider them to be “normal”. So, it’s time to set the record straight on what is normal and what’s not normal. Particularly, as it pertains to an enlarged uterus and adenomyosis.
Enlarged Uterus & Adenomyosis: The Connection
When it comes to adenomyosis this particular condition causes tissue that normally lines the uterus to begin to grow into the muscular walls of the uterus. Thus, contributing to the uterus becoming enlarged. Which in turn causes complications such as: heavy prolonged bleeding, intense pelvic cramping, and painful periods.
Enlarged Uterus versus Average Uterus: Comparing Sizes
On average your uterus is about the size of a clenched fist. And, it’s shape and appearance resembles that of an upside down pear. Furthermore, it’s dimensions are typically 3 to 4 inches by 2.5 inches. Yet, having adenomyosis can cause the uterus to double or triple it’s average size. In turn this can lead to fertility complications which make it difficult for a woman to conceive and carry a pregnancy full-term.
Signs & Symptoms You Shouldn’t Ignore
Since an enlarged uterus isn’t unique to adenomyosis it’s fairly easy for it to be confused with fibroids. And while symptoms may be similar the underlying cause is quite different.
Some of the most common symptoms associated with an enlarged uterus and adenomyosis include:
Chronic Pelvic Pain
Experiencing sharp, knife-like pains in the lower abdomen, lower back pain and leg pain similar to sciatica.
Experiencing sharp pains or dull, throbbing aches and discomfort during or after sexual activity. In some cases this pain lasts one to two days afterwards.
Intense and painful periods that involve debilitating pelvic cramping, low back pain, and leg pain. Nausea and gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea or constipation are also common.
Heavy Prolonged Periods
Additionally painful periods may also be heavy and can involve heavy menstrual bleeding with the passage of large blood clots. Furthermore,irregular bleeding in between periods and irregular menstruation may be issues.
Bloating & Constipation
Excessive pressure on the bowels can lead to bloating, constipation and excess gas.
Pressure placed on the bladder from an enlarged swollen uterus can lead to an increased need to urinate.
Abnormal Weight Gain
Gaining weight primarily in the abdominal region or around the waist.
Feeling of fullness or pressure in the pelvis in which abdominal distention may also be an issue.
Struggles to conceive or carry a pregnancy full term.
When To Seek Help
Oftentime, it’s easy to disregard or downplay these types of symptoms. But, I’m encouraging you not to. While experiencing these symptoms doesn’t always mean you have adenomyosis or an underlying condition. They are not normal and your body is communicating with you to tell you something’s wrong. So, instead of brushing it off take the time to listen. Especially, if these symptoms are persistent and progress. And, while it’s not easy to discuss these types of issues with your doctor. There are some things you can do before visiting with your doctor that can aid in the diagnostic process.
Keep Track of Your Symptoms
Maintaining a record of your symptoms for a period of 3-6 months establishes a timeline concerning these particular issues. Key things to keep track of include:
- When you first began to notice these symptoms.
- Were there types of treatments or remedies you tried to help manage symptoms?
- If so, did they help or not?
Additionally, you’ll want to make note of symptoms that occurred in a cyclical manner . Or symptoms that appeared to progress and get worse. All of this information should be shared and discussed with your doctor during your appointment.
Know Your Risk
Understanding the various factors that increase your risk of adenomyosis can also be helpful. A history that includes prior uterine surgery, C-section, or fibroid removal may increase your risk of developing adenomyosis. And, while adenomyosis is most common in women that are in their forties and fifties. Current research and an influx of young women being diagnosed with adenomyosis is proving otherwise. So, if you fall outside the typical age range for adenomyosis and you’re experiencing the symptoms—talk to your doctor about it anyway.
Make it a point to ask open-ended questions that focus on identifying your risk for adenomyosis based on your health history and symptom progression. Discuss potential fertility complications and what next steps should be taken to achieve an accurate diagnosis. Keep in mind that the goal of the appointment is to get to the root cause of what’s going on. At the end you should have next steps in regards to the diagnostic process and a plan of action.
Advocate For Yourself During Your Appointment
Be prepared to advocate for your health during your appointment. Especially, if you feel your doctor isn’t taking your concerns seriously. And, be aware of the acceptable types of diagnostic procedures that are used in diagnosing adenomyosis.
Common Diagnostic Tests
While some medical professionals may recommend an ultrasound to identify adenomyosis it’s not considered the best diagnostic procedure. Since, it’s easy to misdiagnose adenomyosis as uterine fibroids due to similarities in appearance.
On the other hand, having an MRI scan (magnetic resonance imaging) is considered the best way to view the inner muscle of the uterus and diagnose adenomyosis. In some instances an endometrial biopsy may also be performed to rule out other causes and conditions.
If Your Doctor Doesn’t Take You Serious
Unfortunately, there are doctors that don’t take women’s health seriously. And,for many women finding a doctor that listens and takes them serious is a struggle. Especially, when it concerns reproductive health and women’s specific issues. Medical professionals are quick to normalize painful periods, gaslight pain and rush to prescribe hormonal birth control before determining the root cause. If you feel your doctor is rushing to prescribe you medication or birth control without properly diagnosing you. Or, you feel like you’re being patronized and not listened to; you don’t have to accept this. Simply and politely have them make a note of the reason why they are declining to properly test you and/or prescribe medication in your chart. Then seek a second opinion from another doctor or specialist.
While having an enlarged uterus isn’t a life threatening condition it can have a major impact on your health and quality of life. Furthermore, it’s a common symptom associated with adenomyosis which is a painful condition that impacts reproductive health and fertility. The sooner you can achieve a diagnosis you can begin making steps towards properly treating it. And, while there are limited treatments for adenomyosis a hysterectomy is considered a cure for adenomyosis. But, before making such a final decision there are important things to consider such as your age, desire to have children, and progression of disease. Hence, why early detection is so important.
And, if there’s nothing else you take from this post I hope you know that living with pain, and dysfunction when it comes to your period and reproductive health is not normal. It’s a symptom and needs to be diagnosed and treated. Don’t let any person or doctor tell you otherwise. Keep educating yourself about your body. And, continue to fight and advocate for your health.
About the Author
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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