Adenomyosis, also termed as adenomyosis uteri, is a very common gynaecological condition wherein the inner layer of the uterus, known as the endometrium, extends forcefully into the neighbouring outer muscular wall, called the myometrium.
An instance of adenomyosis usually occurs in women going through menopause, between the ages of 40 and 50. However, currently, a rise in cases of this agonizing condition has been reported in younger women in their 20s and 30s as well, particularly post-childbirth.
Medical experts reveal that this could be due to fluctuating levels of reproductive hormones in these stages of adulthood in women, namely estrogen, progesterone, follicle-stimulating hormone and prolactin, although this underlying trigger factor is yet to be confirmed.
Although adenomyosis and endometriosis give rise to comparable indications such as painful periods and severe abdominal cramps, they are two entirely different kinds of disorders. In endometriosis, the cells comprising the interior lining of the uterus – the endometrial layer – grow in a location outside the uterus, such as in the fallopian tube, ovaries or intestines. Also Read: Endometriosis: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment
Adenomyosis is not a life-threatening disease and develops in several women throughout their adulthood. Nevertheless, this health anomaly negatively affects a woman’s daily productivity and quality of life. It is hence advised to consult with a doctor as soon as any typical signs of adenomyosis are recognized, in order to effectively treat the illness.
The exact reason for adenomyosis is not known, but healthcare professionals have determined certain attributes that could prompt this complaint associated with female reproductory organs.
These include excess tissues from the endometrial portion invading the myometrium, or chronic uterine inflammation, following surgical procedures, such as a C-section.
Other contributing aspects consist of developmental defects, where endometrial tissue accumulates in exterior muscle segments during fetal growth, as well as endometrial bone marrow stem cells attacking and occupying the myometrium.
At times, adenomyosis does not present any prominent signs and only causes minor aches and soreness.
Yet, in severe circumstances, the distinct indicators of adenomyosis comprise:
- Incessant heavy bleeding during menstrual cycles
- Tenderness during menstruation
- Abdominal discomfort, leading to bloating
- Palpable hurting sensation while having intercourse
- Excruciating, stabbing pain in the pelvic area, with untimely menstrual cycles Also Read: Irregular Periods? Don’t Ignore It, Try These Remedies
Since other feminine-linked irregularities bear many resemblances to adenomyosis, such as endometriosis, fibroid growths and endometrial polyps, the doctor initially conducts tests for these sicknesses as well.
External physical signs and observed symptoms, such as painful, heavy periods and severe menstrual cramps, are carefully studied. Moreover, a pelvic analysis is performed, to deduce if the uterus is enlarged and inflamed.
Advanced imaging scans, such as MRI and ultrasound, are carried out as well, to visualise the abnormalities in the uterine lining and surrounding muscle tissue.
Furthermore, excising tissue samples from the uterus, by means of endometrial biopsy, helps to rule out the possibility of other grave underlying conditions, such as uterine cancer.
In older women with only mild discomfort experienced during menstrual cycles, adenomyosis does not require any specific treatment, as it gradually ceases post-menopause.
For young adults suffering from unbearable pain in the lower abdomen and frequent bouts of irregular periods, doctors usually prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs. These assist in providing relief from aching and soreness during menstruation, in addition to averting excessive bleeding.
In certain circumstances, hormonal medicines are advised to be taken, as they control the duration and loss of blood during periods, besides alleviating pain and cramps in the abdominal and pelvic regions.
If the instance of adenomyosis is very severe and medications do not regulate blood flow during menstruation, then surgery to remove the uterus, also known as hysterectomy, is recommended by the doctor.