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.