I'm pretty confident that a lot of you have never heard of adenomyosis.
It's a cause of heavy and painful periods but is challenging to diagnose. Adenomyosis happens when the lining of the uterus called the endometrium grows into the muscular portion of the uterus. This causes the uterus to become enlarged and can cause mild to severe symptoms. The exact cause of adenomyosis is unknown, but they are certain women that are at increased risk. Women in their 40-50's, had children, and had any type of surgery on your uterus like a cesarean section or removal of fibroids.
Symptoms can vary from none at all to heavy, painful periods, bleeding in between periods, painful sex, and abdominal and pelvic pain.
Diagnosis of adenomyosis can be challenging and sometimes is a diagnosis of elimination. A pelvic exam may reveal an enlarged uterus. A transvaginal ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) will also be done to help make a diagnosis.
Treatments are aimed at reducing symptoms. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (like Ibuprofen, Advil, Aleve) are used to decrease cramping and abdominal pain. Hormonal treatment that includes birth control pills, patch, ring, injection, implant, or IUD can also help control heavy, prolonged, and painful periods. Surgical options include endometrial ablation, uterine artery embolization, and hysterectomy.
If you have any of these symptoms, make sure you see your doctor. Other conditions like fibroids, endometriosis, and endometrial polyps can cause similar symptoms, making adenomyosis challenging to diagnose. You may not be diagnosed with adenomyosis until other possible causes of your symptoms have been ruled out.
Dr. Jodie Horton