What is Adenomyosis?
Adenomyosis is a condition that affects the uterus, a prominent organ in the female reproductive system. This condition causes the uterus to thicken and enlarge. Similar to endometriosis, adenomyosis is directly related to the endometrial tissue that lines the uterine wall. But while endometriosis occurs when this tissue grows outside the uterus, adenomyosis occurs when the tissue grows into the myometrium (the outer muscular walls of the uterus).
What Are the Causes of Adenomyosis?
While the exact causes of adenomyosis are difficult to pinpoint, there are certain factors that put some women at a greater risk for developing this condition. Adenomyosis is more common in women who have been pregnant or had multiple children as well as women who have had uterine fibroids or endometriosis.
Signs & Symptoms of Adenomyosis
Adenomyosis can often be asymptomatic, which is why many women are unaware that they have this condition. Women with symptoms may experience:
- Painful, heavy or irregular menstrual periods
- Pelvic pain
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- An enlarged uterus
A healthcare provider can diagnose adenomyosis by discussing symptoms and performing one or more of the following tests:
- A pelvic exam
- Imaging scans including an MRI or transvaginal ultrasound
- Biopsy (only in cases where a hysterectomy has been performed)
How Is Adenomyosis Treated?
Endometrial tissue growth is promoted by the hormone estrogen, which is why adenomyosis symptoms often disappear after menopause, when the body’s production of this hormone is greatly reduced. If symptoms are severe, however, a physician may recommend the following treatments:
- Pain medications including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to alleviate cramping
- Hormonal birth control such as birth control pills, injections or an intrauterine device to halt ovulation and regulate hormones
- Hysterectomy to remove the uterus
While the signs of adenomyosis are not always easy to detect, the healthcare professionals at Tampa General Hospital’s Women’s Institute specialize in diagnosing this and other related gynecologic conditions. We create personalized treatment plans for each individual case.