Adenomyosis is a kind of female reproductive disease in which the inner lining of the uterus (the endometrium) breaks through the muscle wall of the uterus. It can cause several symptoms, like lower abdominal pressure, menstrual cramps, and bloating before menstrual periods and heavy periods. These symptoms most often start late in the childbearing years after having children.
The cause of adenomyosis isn't known yet, but the possible causes can be concluded in the following:
Developmental origins: Some experts believe that adenomyosis originates within the uterine muscle from endometrial tissue deposited there when the uterus first formed in the fetus.
Invasive tissue growth: Other experts speculate that adenomyosis results from the direct invasion of endometrial cells from the lining of the uterus into the muscle that forms the uterine walls. The direct invasion of the endometrial cells into the wall of the uterus may be promoted by uterine incisions that are performed during an operation.
Stem cell origins: A recent theory proposes that the uterine muscle may be invaded by bone marrow stem cells which can cause adenomyosis.
Uterine inflammation related to childbirth: Another theory believes that there is a link between adenomyosis and childbirth. An inflammation of the uterine lining during the postpartum period might cause a break in the normal boundary of cells that line the uterus. Surgical procedures on the uterus may have a similar effect.
Some women with adenomyosis may experience no signs or symptoms. While in other cases, adenomyosis symptoms may include:
Pain during intercourse
Heavy, prolonged menstrual bleeding
Severe menstrual cramps
Blood clots that pass during your period
A hysterectomy or examination of the uterine tissue under a microscope was believed the only definitive way to diagnose adenomyosis until recently. If a doctor suspects adenomyosis, he will suggest a physical exam firstly, such as a pelvic exam, and an ultrasound. Sonohysterography is another technique that can be used to help evaluate the symptoms associated with adenomyosis sometimes. Besides, MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) can be also used to diagnose adenomyosis in women with abnormal uterine bleeding.
Sometimes, adenomyosis can be misdiagnosed as uterine fibroids because of their similar symptoms. However, they are two different conditions that fibroids are masses of tissue attached to the uterine wall while adenomyosis is a growth within the uterine wall. An accurate diagnosis should be performed before choosing the right treatment.
Treatment for adenomyosis may vary depending in part on your symptoms, their severity, and whether you have completed childbearing. The common treatment options for adenomyosis include:
Anti-inflammatory drugs: Anti-inflammatory medications may be prescribed by your doctor to control the pain if you're nearing menopause, like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others). Your menstrual blood flow and pain may be reduced if you start an anti-inflammatory medicine two to three days before your period begins and continuing to take it during your period.
Herbal Medicines: Herbal medicines like Fuyan Pill are also believed to have strong effect on treating adenomyosis. Unlike antibiotics, it will not cause any side effects and drug resistance and can help women with adenomyosis get cure completely in a short time without recurrence.
Hormone medications: Heavy bleeding and pain associated with adenomyosis can be lessened with a combination of estrogen-progestin birth control pills or hormone-containing patches or vaginal rings.
Hysterectomy: Your doctor may suggest a hysterectomy surgery to remove your uterus if your condition is too severe. However, it isn't necessary to remove your ovaries to control adenomyosis.
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