What is adenomyosis?
Adenomyosis is condition in which the uterine lining (the endometrium) protrudes through the muscle wall of the uterus (the myometrium). As a result, women suffering from adenomyosis can experience problems with their menstruation and discomfort. This is not a life-threatening condition, it is considered benign, however, the symptoms can have a significantly negative affect on the quality of life of those suffering from it.
What are the symptoms of adenomyosis?
Although sometimes there are no symptoms experienced with adenomyosis, common ones include:
- painful menstrual cramps
- abdominal bloating
- heavy, prolonged menstrual bleeding
- pain during intercourse
- blood clots which pass during menstruation
Symptoms are normally first noticed after women have had children, or if not, in the later childbearing years.
What causes adenomyosis?
The cause of adenomyosis is unknown, however, it typically goes away after menopause, which suggests that the cause is hormone-related.
What is the treatment for adenomyosis?
As adenomyosis usually goes away after menopause, treatment options depend on how old you are or if you have finished having children.
For women nearing menopause, anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen can be given to help manage pain. If these are taken in the days leading up to menstruation, bleeding should be lighter. Milder symptoms can be dealt with using over-the-counter pain relief and heat packs to help with cramps. Certain hormone contraceptives can sometimes help too with symptoms of heavy bleeding and cramps.
Endometrial ablation, which destroys uterine lining can help manage symptoms as well. Uterine artery embolisation, which blocks certain blood vessels leading to the uterine lining can help relieve pain too. This is because the blood supply gets cut off to the affected area, which shrinks as a result.
Finally, if the pain experienced is severe, and menopause is a long way off, sometimes a hysterectomy will be recommended. However, this is a serious decision that only an expert would recommend on careful consideration.