Having Both Endometriosis and Fibroids
As an adult, I have had only two surgeries. Yet, both were on my reproductive system to deal with separate (but sometimes intersecting) disorders that impact female sex organs and menstruation. One of those surgeries was my lap, to confirm and remove endometriosis. The other was a hysteroscopy to remove over a half-dozen polyps I had in my uterus.
In the months leading up to the discovery of the polyps, I started to experience sometimes significant mid-cycle bleeding outside of my period, and my periods themselves became heavier and more hurtful. So I was relieved when an underlying issue other than just endo was found to be the culprit. The removal of the polyps lessened the pain intensity of my periods for quite awhile and helped reduce the frequency and amount of mid-cycle bleeding I experienced most months. Interestingly, it was during that surgery that docs also first suspected I had adenomyosis as well.
The intersection between endo and fibroids
It seems that those who have endo are somewhat more likely to have polyps and/or fibroids than women without, and vice versa. Polyps and fibroids are similar in that they are usually non-cancerous growths. They differ in that polyps grow from endometrial tissue that attaches to the lining of the uterus, while fibroids instead grow within the uterine walls and are not made from uterine lining (endometrial) tissues. Like endometriosis, fibroids can be fueled by hormone production, especially estrogen.
While I have not had anymore uterine polyps since my 2007 surgery to remove them, I have since developed several fibroids in the past few years. In particular, I have three small fibroids. While they are not very big, I think they may be compounding the pain and heavy bleeding I already endure during my periods due to endometriosis and adenomyosis.
What the research says
Some studies have confirmed the intersection between fibroids and endo. Research published in a peer review journal in 2011 found that of the patients they surveyed who were receiving surgery to treat either endo or fibroids, 25.8% (47/182) of patients with endometriosis were also confirmed to have fibroids, while 19.6% (47/240) of patients with uterine fibroids were confirmed to have endo.1 However, both diseases can act independently to adversely affect fertility.
In addition to impacting fertility, fibroids have other things in common with endo. Both can lead to pelvic pain (both during and outside of menstruation), a feeling of fullness, and heavy bleeding, and can also contribute to increased intestinal and urinary distress.
Unlike adenomyosis, fibroids can be removed surgically while keeping the uterus intact. Currently, I am trying to decide whether I simply want my fibroids removed during my next lap or if I will opt to have my uterus removed altogether (since I also have adenomyosis, which I suspect may be more responsible for my uterine-related pain than the fibroids, especially since they are relatively small--I am currently leaning toward the latter).
How about you? Have you experienced fibroids along with endo/adeno? If so, what did you do to have them treated. Share your experiences in the comments below!
What's in your emergency endo kit?