Adenomyosis or uterine endometriosis is essentially a benign disease which is constricted to the uterine muscle. In this condition, the endometrial cells lining the uterus migrate to the back wall or posterior side of the uterus. This leads to the thickening of uterine walls, which in turn, may cause prolonged or heavier menstrual bleeding along with severe abdominal pain during the intercourse or menstrual cycle.
Adenomyosis is a common medical condition among women in their 40’s. The disease is often concomitant with the hormonal imbalances, such as an excessive rise in estrogen level. Multiple research studies have established that approximately 12% of women diagnosed with Adenomyosis also tend to develop Endometriosis. Furthermore, the pathology reports of more than 62% of the women affected with hysterectomy were apparently diagnosed with Adenomyosis as well.
Types of Adenomyosis
There are 2 different forms of Adenomyosis:
Adenomyomas: It is, in general, an encapsulated assembly of the endometrial cells around the uterus wall. These cells aggregating around the uterus wall may appear like fibroids and can be easily removed, without causing any damage to the uterus muscle.
Diffuse Adenomyosis: It is a more common disease. In this, the endometrial tissue spreads all through the uterus lining. Due to this, the uterus expands and gets hardened, which in turn, makes intercourse extremely painful. This eventually leads to inability of the muscles to contract and stretch, and hence damages the uterine muscles. More often, miscarriages in the second and third trimester of the pregnancy are primarily caused by the diffuse adenomyosis.
While the cause of this medical condition remains unknown, some of the common factors observed to trigger the disease include:
- Development of stem cells inside/around the uterine wall
- Growth/development of additional tissues around the uterine wall, which were present at the time of birth and grow in adulthood
- Adenomyoma or aggressive growth of the abnormal tissues from endometrial cells crowding the uterine muscle
- Uterine inflammation
While some women diagnosed with adenomyosis disorder may have no symptoms, in others the disease can cause:
- Heavy Periods or Hypermenorrhea
- Large Clots
- Painful Periods or Dysmenorrhea
- Lengthy bleeding cycles
- Abdominal Bloating
- Cramps & Back Pain
- Painful Intercourse
- Vomiting & Nausea
- Severe abdominal pain all through the month
Adenomyosis: Potential Risks & Complications
Even though Adenomyosis is not necessarily considered as a harmful disease, it may affect a person’s daily lifestyle. In addition, there are some cases when people are inflicted with pelvic pain and excessive bleeding, which may conflict with their regular activities, for instance, sexual intercourse.
Studies have further confirmed that women diagnosed with adenomyosis are potentially at a higher risk of developing anaemia, which may result in frequent mood swings, fatigue, and dizziness. This condition, at times, is also linked with irritability, anxiety, and depression.
According to specialists, women diagnosed with mild forms of Adenomyosis may not need any medical treatment. However, in case the symptoms obstruct your daily activities, a doctor may advise following treatment options.
Anti-Inflammatory Medications: The medications like ibuprofen are often prescribed by a doctor to decrease blood flow at the time of the monthly menstrual cycle. This relieves the patient from severe cramps.
Hormonal Treatments: Such treatments may include GnRH-analogs, progestin contraceptives, and oral contraceptives to control the increased levels of estrogen amongst patients.
Endometrial Ablation: The treatment includes advanced techniques to destroy or remove the excess endometrial cells from the ureteral lining. However, this technique may not work for every patient as adenomyosis deeply invades the uterus muscle.
Uterine Artery Embolization: It prevents the supply of blood from specific arteries to the distressed area. As a result, the adenomyosis contracts. The procedure is mainly used for the treatment of uterine fibroids.
MRI-Guided Focused Ultrasound Surgery/MRgFUS: This procedure makes use of high-intensity waves for destroying the targeted tissue. MRI images are used to monitor MRI images.
Hysterectomy: This procedure is often advised by many doctors to offer a complete relief from Adenomyosis. It typically involves a surgical process to remove the uterus. However, it is only recommended in the severe cases.