Have you heard of adenomyosis? Unless you’ve been diagnosed with adenomyosis, there’s a big chance you’re not familiar with this common condition affecting one in ten women. It’s one of the lesser known causes of pelvic pain, heavy bleeding and discomfort.
Many women go about their daily lives without realising they have adenomyosis, putting their symptoms down to ‘painful or heavy periods’. If you have adenomyosis, the endometrium grows into the muscle layer of the uterus. During menstruation (and fluctuations of oestrogen and progesterone), microscopic bleeds occur in this tissue causing pain. This is different to endometriosis where the tissue that is similar to the tissue that lines the uterus grows in other parts of the body, usually in the pelvic cavity.
While the condition is different, the symptoms of adenomyosis are often similar to those experienced when you have endometriosis.
Some common symptoms are:
It’s important to remember that every woman experiences adenomyosis differently and the symptoms and severity can differ from person to person. At Grace Private we are committed to helping women of all ages live their best lives. To help you develop an understanding of adenomyosis, here are five facts you should know.
It is common for some women to have both endometriosis and adenomyosis, but even though they share similar symptoms, it’s important to remember they are totally different conditions. With endometriosis, the gland-like lesions of tissue are outside the uterus mainly in the peritoneum – the lining that surrounds all the pelvic and abdominal organs including your liver and kidneys.
However, adenomyosis is a uterine condition, where the lining of the uterus invades the muscle of the uterus and the condition is limited to the pelvis.
This means a hysterectomy is a cure for adenomyosis. However, as many people suffer from both conditions, a hysterectomy won’t eliminate pain caused by endometriosis.
When you are diagnosed with any condition it’s natural to want to know the cause. Unfortunately, it’s still not known exactly what causes the uterus-lining cells to enter the muscle wall, however occurrences have been reported:
Symptoms of adenomyosis are often disregarded as simply a ‘heavy period’, however painful periods are not normal if they are affecting your daily life. Because of this, symptoms of adenomyosis are frequently missed and it can take years for a diagnosis. There’s a misconception that only women in their 30s or 40s can be diagnosed with adenomyosis, however it can present from your first period.
If you are found to have endometriosis, you should also be checked for adenomyosis. There are two ways to diagnose adenomyosis:
Adenomyosis is different for every woman, but in most cases women with adenomyosis can still fall pregnant as long as there aren’t any other complications. Sometimes, however, adenomyosis can make it more difficult for embryos to implant and grow.
Age is a determining factor regarding management and treatment of adenomyosis as the condition usually improves closer to menopause when hormone levels start to change.
Management and treatment will differ for everyone, but surgery isn’t the only option. Natural management such as managing diet, exercise, heat packs and warm baths can help, as well as non-hormonal medication such as anti-inflammatory painkillers.
In some instances doctors or gynaecologists may prescribe hormone treatment or an IUD (Mirena). A hysterectomy may be recommended in some cases, especially if you are not responding to hormonal treatment methods.
Consult your GP and ask for a referral to speak to a gynaecologist if you are experiencing heavy, painful periods that affect your everyday life. At Grace Private we offer a holistic approach to women’s healthcare and specialise in managing and treating adenomyosis, endometriosis, pelvic pain and heavy menstrual bleeding.
Looking for support? There are a variety of resources and types of support available if you are diagnosed with adenomyosis. For more information you can contact:
If you’d like to book an appointment with a Grace Private specialist, remember to ‘ask for Grace’ when you next visit your GP.