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Is it Endometriosis or Adenomyosis?

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Medical terms can be very confusing. For instance, endometriosis is a condition where the lining of the uterus grows outside of the uterus. In contrast, adenomyosis is a condition where the tissue that normally grows inside the uterus, grows into the muscular walls of the uterus. It occurs after you’ve had children and can be very painful indeed.


Some women with adenomyosis do not experience symptoms at all. If they do, it is so mild that symptoms can be called a slight discomfort at worse. On the other hand, some women with this disorder have extreme symptoms as described below:

• Heavy or prolonged menstrual bleeding
• Severe cramping or sharp, knife-like pelvic pain during menstruation (dysmenorrhea)
• Menstrual cramps that last throughout your period and worsen as you get older
• Pain during intercourse
• Bleeding between periods
• Passing blood clots during your period

When you find that your symptoms are disruptive to your life – prolonged heavy bleeding or severe heavy cramping - make an appointment to see your doctor. Even though this condition can be very painful, it is not considered serious or life-threatening. How is this condition diagnosed? Most times, adenomyosis can only be diagnosed when all other conditions/diseases have been ruled out. What makes it even more difficult is women with adenomyosis usually have other uterine diseases – fibroids, endometriosis and even endometrial polyps.

Causes and Treatment

The definite cause of adenomyosis is not known – although doctors have several theories. Some experts believe that when women have a uterine incision (such as during a C-section), this introduces endometrial cells into the walls of the uterus. Others say that this condition could have developed when the female fetus was first forming. Lastly, some say that after labor and delivery, when there is a break in the normal boundary of the cells that line the uterus, that this disorder could have developed then.

What is known, is that adenomyosis typically goes away after menopause. So the treatment a woman chooses usually depends on how close she is to this period of her life.

Add a Comment8 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

I have also been diagnosed with adenomyosis, I am 27 and have never been pregnant. Women who are older tend to have more surgeries which is why I think it is much more common to be found in older women. But of course this does not mean it only exists in older women.

September 11, 2014 - 6:12pm

Why isn't UAF offered as a treatment in this article? I had this procedure done about a month and a half ago and it's helped me tremendously! And it CAN be diagnosed with an MRI. I was originally misdiagnosed with fibroids until I had an MRI.

March 7, 2013 - 6:42pm
EmpowHER Guest

The Mayo Clinic is a notoriously poor source of information relative to endometriosis and adenomyosis. Their materials are superficial at best; outdated and erroneous at worst. For accurate information on endometriosis, adenomyosis and other reproductive disorders, it is best to visit sites which specifically serve that constituency, i.e. Dr. David Redwine, Dr. Tamer Seckin, Dr. Dan Martin, endometriosis.org, endofound.org, Dr. Andrew Cook, etc. etc. Mayo's knowledge in this realm does not live up to their reputation. While they are stellar in other fields; women's reproductive health disorders is not one of their strong suits.

August 24, 2010 - 7:41am

I see your point and stand corrected. Since the goal is to represent the total truth, phraseology is very important. Thank you for your keen eye.


August 23, 2010 - 1:07pm

I am sorry for your pain. You've obviously have went through a lot. But you must owe to the fact that EVERY woman's experience is different. When reporting, it is important to give an overview of what the options are and what you can expect - the good and bad spectrum of things. The source of the information is the Mayo Clinic who is considered the leading authority in such medical matter. Once again, sorry for your pain - which I know does not erase your anguish.

August 23, 2010 - 11:48am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Dita Faulkner)

Thanks for your reply. Clearly, we have shared goals of communicating accurate information to women. I think the key is to qualify your statement, "It occurs after you’ve had children and can be very painful indeed." It is much better, and most scientific writers would agree, to say something along the lines of, "It most often occurs after you've had children," in order to avoid making such a definitive statement. This would be consistent with what the Mayo Clinic has on their website, "This is most likely to happen late in your childbearing years and after you've had children. ".

August 23, 2010 - 12:10pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

Note, I had adenomyosis diagnosed at age 31---and had never been pregnant.

August 23, 2010 - 12:12pm
EmpowHER Guest

This post needs to be CORRECTED! I had adenomyosis, and never had children. Please do not further confuse women when they are battling such a painful and misunderstood illness. Check facts before posting them.

August 23, 2010 - 11:09am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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