Adenomyosis Symptoms

Identifying And Treating Them

By: - Medicine - July 15, 2011
adenomyosis symptoms identifying and treating them

It is unclear whether adenomyosis symptoms are related to endometriosis symptoms. However, the two diseases present in very similar ways. One major difference is that adenomyosis tends to affect middle aged women who have had children, whereas endometriosis primarily affects women in their adolescent years, in their 20s and in their early 30s. The way in which they are similar is that endometrial tissue, the uterine lining that sheds each month during menstruation, breaks through the walls of the uterus. It then acts the same way as the tissue inside the uterus and tries to shed. However, it has nowhere to go and causes severe pain and, often, heavy bleeding.

Population Affected

The age group that most commonly experiences this condition is middle-aged women. Their medical history usually shows that they have had at least one child that they carried full-term. Another group that may be affected are women who have had surgery done in the uterine area.

What Adenomyosis Symptoms Look Like

Endometrial tissue is found inside the muscular cavity called the myometrium. This can cause swelling and inflammation. It can make the uterus appear to be bright red. Also, the adenomyomas are often misdiagnosed as fibroids due to their similar shape and size. However, there is some difference in their structure (see diagram).

Possible Explanations for Adenomyosis

There is no clear explanation as to why the tissue leaves its normal habitat and migrates to this area. There are, however, some theories. One of these is that it is like a uterine lining ingrowth. Other possible explanations are that abdominal surgeries like C-sections and Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) are contributing factors and that some cells never quite made it to the uterus. When that happens it is called metaplasia.

Signs of Adenomyosis

Some signals that a woman might be suffering from symptoms of adenomyosis are heavy, painful periods and heavy bleeding during menstruation. Additionally, bloating and abdominal pain are indicators.

Diagnostics

Diagnosis can be challenging. However, research is currently being done to see whether diagnostics could improve through the use of MRIs. Transvaginal ultrasound can also now identify adenomyosis. However, neither of these methods is specific enough to be sure the diagnosis is accurate. Surgery, including several biopsies of tissue deep in the uterus, is the only definite method of identifying the issue.

Treatments

Outside of performing a hysterectomy, there are only a couple of ways to treat the disease. A hysterectomy is defined as the complete removal of the uterus. Pain management is a common method of handling the manifestations of the disease. Heating pads, non-steroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), like Tylenol, Aleve, Ibuprofen and Aspirin, are some of the ways in which pain can be managed.

Hormone therapy is sometimes also used. These are generally drugs meant to suppress hormones, in essence to starve the Adenomyosis. If it has no hormones to feed on it will disappear. Some examples are intrauterine devices that release levonorgestrel or Gonadatropin releasing hormones (GnRH analogs). Typically, GnRH is adminestered through injections.

Other options are to have an endometrial ablation or to have a uterine artery embolization. A uterine artery embolization is only minimally invasive. The procedure is meant to block blood flow from reaching the adenomyomal tissue. Ablations have been found to be very effective if the disease hasn’t begun spreading very deeply in the muscle. This gets rid of the uterine lining completely.

Adenomyosis symptoms can be very painful. Some of these symptoms of adenomyosis are heavy bleeding, severe abdominal cramping and bloating or pressure in the abdominal area. Causes are as yet unknown, though some theories are out there. There are several treatments like Endometrial ablation, hormone therapy and pain management available.

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