Adenomyosis and your uterus
What is adenomyosis?
Adenomyosis occurs when the uterine lining, called endometrial tissue, grows into the muscular walls of the uterus.
This is similar to, but not the same as endometriosis. Endometriosis is when the uterine lining becomes implanted outside of the uterus. Some women will have both conditions at the same time.
Adenomyosis on its own will not affect your fertility in the way that endometriosis can, unless the symptoms become so severe that you may need to undergo a hysterectomy to feel better.
For reasons that are not very clear, estrogen plays a role in the development of adenomyosis. When estrogen levels decrease to their lowest levels, adenomyosis subsides and gradually disappears altogether.
Who gets adenomyosis?
This condition usually strikes women over the age of 30, and more specifically in women who have not carried a child to full term. Adenomyosis is rare in women who have not had children.
There are links to increased chances of developing adenomyosis after having uterine surgery or C-sections
You may experience no symptoms at all, but depending on the severity of the condition, some women report having the following symptoms.
*Heavy and unusual menstrual bleeding, lasting longer than usual
*Severe cramps that last through all days of your period; painful periods that become worse
*Bleeding after sexual intercourse
*Bleeding or blood clots in between your monthly periods
*Swollen uterus that may or may not be accompanied by abdominal swelling.
Your doctor will conduct a pelvic exam and confirm if there is any swelling of the uterus. As well, a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test or an ultrasound may be used. Unfortunately, there are many other health conditions that have similar symptoms. Your doctor can only rule out the possibility of more serious conditions after a hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) because the results from a biopsy are not conclusive enough. A biopsy can rule out other health conditions but not adenomyosis itself.
Will I need a hysterectomy?
Your doctor will suggest a hysterectomy if your adenomyosis symptoms are severe enough to interfere with your daily life. For many women experiencing only mild symptoms, the condition will reverse with decreased estrogen levels and there is no need for invasive surgery. In mild cases, your doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications to alleviate symptoms. Hormone replacement therapy may be used to combat milder cases of adenomyosis and ensure balanced hormonal levels in your body.
Adenomyosis is yet another condition that can occur in your peri-menopausal years. Fortunately for most women who may not even know they have adenomyosis, it is not a serious matter and will go away on its own. If you have any of the above noted symptoms and believe you might have adenomyosis, please consult with your doctor for a complete physical examination. He or she can rule out any other possible health issues and together your can explore the treatments that will eliminate the discomfort.
Not sure how to start the conversation with your doctor? Visit these sites for information that you can write down or print out and bring with you on your check-up:
Menopause, Your Doctor, and You
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