Adenomyosis and Endometriosis are Linked

When I had my hysterectomy a few years ago, the endometriosis specialist met with me after the surgery. He told me that he had removed all endometriosis, but that there wasn’t really that much. I was disappointed and worried. My pain over the previous seven years had been as bad as before I had my first laparoscopy, which showed stage 4 endometriosis. I was worried that the specialist had missed a whole lot of endometriosis, meaning my hysterectomy wouldn’t really help me.

After two months, I had to come back for a check up, at which the doctor told me they had analyzed my uterus and had found extensive adenomyosis. The only cure for adenomyosis is a hysterectomy, which made me feel a lot better about my decision to have such an invasive surgery.

What is adenomyosis?

Adenomyosis is the growth of the endometrial cells in the uterine wall. While endometriosis moves outside of the uterus and adheres to the outside of the uterus and on other organs in the abdomen, adenomyosis nestles inside the uterine wall. This can affect the elasticity of the uterus, making it dangerous for women to be pregnant and give birth.

One of the ways you can get adenomyosis is from a C-section when you also have endometriosis, which was my case. In general, pregnancy can make adenomyosis worse, whereas for some women, endometriosis symptoms may lessen during pregnancy.

Treating and managing adenomyosis

The problem with diagnosing adenomyosis is that you have to biopsy part of the uterine wall in order to see if there is endometrial tissue in the wall. Because the tissue might not infect the whole uterus, a negative diagnosis is likely. And, just as with endometriosis, adenomyosis is often misdiagnosed. Maybe even more often than endometriosis considering how difficult it is to diagnose properly.

Adenomyosis and endometriosis have very similar symptoms. Heavy, painful periods, pelvic pain, pain during sex and irritation of the bladder. Had I opted for a laparoscopy to deal with my endometriosis at the time, I wouldn’t have seen any improvement in my symptoms, as my pain was caused by adenomyosis instead.

Other considerations

As adenomyosis can only be treated with hormones or pain relief, it is a very frustrating condition to have. Unless you’re willing to have a hysterectomy, there are not many options for treatment. The endometrial cells in the uterine walls behave the same way as endometriosis, which means that they are also susceptible to the same dietary restrictions as endometriosis, so it is possible to alleviate the symptoms through diet.

Endometriosis and adenomyosis are often linked and women with endometriosis are more at risk for adenomyosis. The condition is more often seen in women between the ages of 35 and 50, but it is possible to have it when you’re younger. If you suffer from endometriosis symptoms, but a laparoscopy doesn’t provide any relief, or if no endometriosis is found on an exploratory laparoscopy, it’s worth it to ask your doctor about adenomyosis.

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