What is adenomyosis?
Adenomyosis, also called uterine endometriosis, occurs when the lining of the uterus (endometrial tissue) grows into the muscular wall of the uterus. The displaced tissue thickens, breaks down and bleeds during each menstrual cycle. Adenomyosis is considered to be benign, however, the pain and heavy bleeding can interfere with your daily life. Adenomyosis is most commonly diagnosed in middle-aged women who have children.
While the exact cause of adenomyosis is unknown, possible causes and risk factors may include:
- Invasive tissue growth
- Uterine inflammation from childbirth
- Stem cells
- Age—Adenomyosis is most commonly diagnosed in middle-aged women
Symptoms of adenomyosis include:
- Heavy or prolonged menstrual bleeding
- Severe cramps
- Sharp pelvic pain during menstruation
- Painful intercourse
- Passing clots during period
- Enlarged uterus
If prolonged, heavy bleeding or sharp cramps during your period are interfering with your regular activities, you should visit your doctor.
What a diagnosis means
In addition to a pelvic exam, your doctor can diagnose adenomyosis through imaging technology, such as:
- MRI—An MRI is a diagnostic procedure that utilizes a large magnet, radiofrequencies and a computer to reflect images of structures and organs within your body
- Transvaginal ultrasound—A pelvic ultrasound used to examine female reproductive organs
Treatment options for adenomyosis include:
- Endometrial ablation—Endometrial ablation is a procedure to permanently remove a thin layer of the uterine lining to stop or reduce excessive or abnormal bleeding in women for whom childbearing is complete.
- Hormone therapies—Estrogen-progestin birth control pills, hormone patches, or vaginal rings can reduce the bleeding and pain associated with adenomyosis.
- Hysterectomy—A hysterectomy is the surgical removal of the uterus. If your pain is severe, your doctor may suggest a hysterectomy.