Adenomyosis is a condition where endometrial tissue forms within and grows into the muscle material of your uterine wall. There are more than 200,000 cases of adenomyosis in the United States each year. To cure adenomyosis, you will need a diagnosis from a medical professional who will then provide you with treatment. Adenomyosis is a chronic disease, which means it can last for years or last for your entire life. It occurs when endometrial cells from the lining of your endometrial cavity migrate from their own lining and into the back wall of your uterus. Adenomyosis is non-cancerous.
Symptoms of Adenomyosis
The symptoms of adenomyosis occur during sexual intercourse, through menstruation, or can be attributed to general pain in your abdominal or pelvic area.
Symptoms of adenomyosis include:
- Abdominal Pain
- Blood Clots During Menstruation
- Heavy or Prolonged Menstruation
- Irregular Menstruation
- Pain During Intercourse
- Pelvic Pain
- Severe Cramping
Causes of Adenomyosis
The cause of adenomyosis is not known. The theories posed by medical experts list possible causes, such as:
- Developmental Origins: Endometrial tissue forms in the uterine muscle at the very beginning of potential human life; tissue that begins depositing in your uterine wall when your uterus is formed as a fetus.
- Invasive Tissue Growth: Some experts believe endometrial cells directly from the lining of your uterus invades the muscle that forms the uterine walls.
- Stem Cell Origins: Another theory about the cause of adenomyosis proposes that adenomyosis occurs when your bone marrow stem cells invade your uterine muscle.
- Surgical Procedures: Surgeries relating to the uterus may inflame your uterine lining and cause atypical cells to invade your uterine lining.
- Uterine Inflammation Related to Childbirth: Some medical professionals theorize that during your postpartum period after giving birth your uterine lining may become inflamed and cause a break in the boundary of cells that line your uterus.
Your doctor will run a series of tests and ask you questions that will help them diagnose your adenomyosis. The results of the following inquiries and medical tests are what will lead your doctor’s diagnosis:
- MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) of Uterus: An MRI uses magnetic fields and radio waves to created images of your organs and tissues in detail. Most MRI machines resemble a large, tube-shaped magnet that you lie inside of as it temporarily realigns hydrogen atoms in your body.
- Pelvic Exam: If you have adenomyosis your uterus will be enlarged and tender.
- Ultrasound: Also known as a sonogram, an ultrasound scan involves high-frequency sound waves to create an image of a specific area inside your body.
Treating Adenomyosis with Surgery
- Non-surgical treatment options like medication can help relieve the pain caused by your adenomyosis, and they can also help to lessen your heavy bleeding. These self-treatment medication-based options include:
- Anti-Inflammatory Medications: These medications that include ibuprofen and Advil can help lessen inflammation inside your uterine wall.
- Contraceptives: Birth control is an option to help regulate periods and bleeding.
- Hormones: Hormones such as levonorgestrel, taken either by mouth or injection can help regulate periods.
Unfortunately, there is no non-surgical cure for adenomyosis. A removal of your uterus, also known as a hysterectomy, is the only way to cure completely and relieve symptoms of adenomyosis. During a hysterectomy, a surgeon will remove your whole uterus, tissues attached to the sides, cervix, and the top part of your vagina.
Risks and Complications of a Hysterectomy
The risks involved with a hysterectomy include:
- Adverse Reaction to Anesthesia
- Blood Clots
- Damage to your Urinary Tract
- Excessive Bleeding
- Onset of Menopause Earlier than Expected
Since an open hysterectomy involves a large incision in your abdomen, a two-day stay in the hospital, and nearly two months of recovery, many patients seek a laparoscopic hysterectomy. This version of the procedure is non-invasive; a surgeon uses small incisions, a tube with a camera attached, and a specimen bag to find and remove the uterus and tissue material, as well as to clean the inside of your body of the blood released from the incisions made inside. A laparoscopic hysterectomy leaves almost no scarring on your abdomen, and you can walk out of the hospital by the next morning or maybe the next day. You can return to work two weeks later.
In the United States, over 600,000 hysterectomies are performed each year. The top three changes reported by a random sample of 1,000 women who have undergone a hysterectomy were a personality change, irritability, and loss of energy. Although there are some risks involved in hysterectomy surgery, if you consult with your gynecologist and weigh the risks and complications with the benefits of your adenomyosis symptoms disappearing, you will be able to discern whether it is right for you.
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