Understanding adenomyosis is crucial for those women who are trying to conceive because of the impact that it has on fertility.
Adenomyosis is a chronic condition wherein cells from the endometrial lining of the uterus become embedded in the muscular walls of the uterus and continue to multiply. It is commonly confused with another reproductive medical problem called endometriosis. However, it is considered to be a separate medical condition because endometriosis causes the endometrial lining to grow outside of the uterus, and adenomyosis only happens inside the uterus. Doctors believe that it is caused by trauma to the uterus during childbirth or from a cesarean section. Because of its uncomfortable symptoms and effect on a woman’s fertility, it is important that all women take the time to read the following information about this condition.
What Are the Symptoms of Adenomyosis?
The most common symptom of this condition is pain during the menstrual period that is often best described as a stabbing sensation. It seems to be caused by the pressure that builds up in the areas of the uterus where the endometrial tissue has become embedded. Normally, the tissue would be easily shed whenever conception doesn’t take place, but if it gets trapped in the muscles, it leads to swelling and inflammation that increases cramping. Unfortunately, this increases the size of the uterus, so sexual intercourse becomes painful. Another symptom that the condition causes is heavy bleeding with periods, which makes them last longer than a week. Whenever this occurs, the menstrual blood is often full of large blood clots that can’t be absorbed by a standard cotton tampon. Some women may even have spotting throughout the month that is triggered by sexual intercourse or strenuous exercise.
How Is This Condition Diagnosed?
Doctors can diagnose this condition with an MRI of the uterus to check for embedded endometrial tissue in the uterine wall. Sometimes, they can also identify it by simply asking patients about their monthly period symptoms.
Is This Condition Treatable?
Most women who develop this condition find that it begins when they are between 40 and 50 years old. Once they start menopause, it usually resolves by itself. However, it can sometimes happen in women who are as young as 30 years old, which becomes problematic because it means that the only viable option to end the symptoms is to surgically remove the uterus.
How Does This Condition Affect Fertility?
Women who develop this condition have twice the risk of having a miscarriage, because the cramping and heavy bleeding that it causes make it difficult for a fertilized egg to stay in the uterus so that it can grow into a healthy fetus. And some may struggle for months or years for conception to take place at all. Luckily, there are treatment options available that can help. For example, doctors can use a laser to remove some of the lining of the uterus, which makes the monthly periods lighter and reduces cramping. Hormone pills and injections are helpful too.