Did you know that women are commonly affected by numerous conditions of the reproductive tract? These can often occur during the childbearing years –– and sometimes beyond. Adenomyosis is one such condition that can result in uncomfortable symptoms such as heavy periods, severe cramping, and painful sex.
The good news is that there is help available. If you believe you are experiencing adenomyosis, uterine fibroids, or any other related condition, please consult your doctor for a proper medical diagnosis. Once diagnosed, a medical professional can steer you towards effective adenomyosis treatment and relief from your adenomyosis symptoms.
Adenomyosis often goes untreated. This is probably because women who have been diagnosed with adenomyosis are often presented with limited treatment options involving either surgery or hormone therapy, causing many women to suffer through this condition without treatment.
Some are told that hysterectomy –– the complete surgical removal of the uterus –– is their only available option. However, this simply isn’t true. There is also a non-surgical option to treat adenomyosis that can resolve your symptoms and quickly get you back to your daily routine.
Adenomyosis Treatment Options
Anti-inflammatory medications: NSAIDs like Ibuprofen or Naproxen may be prescribed to help manage any painful symptoms before and during your period. Although NSAIDs can help treat your adenomyosis symptoms, this method does not treat the underlying cause –– the adenomyosis itself.
Hormone therapy: Your doctor may suggest taking birth control pills or trying a hormone-releasing IUD to help control heavy periods. However, as with anti-inflammatory medications, hormone therapy aims to provide symptomatic relief only.
Hysterectomy: Although this is an effective and permanent solution for adenomyosis, it comes with several drawbacks. First of all, removing the uterus results in infertility, which can be devastating if you want children. Also, this major surgery involves a number of risks such as excessive bleeding, blood clots, infection, and an adverse reaction to general anesthesia. Hysterectomy requires a one- to two-day hospital stay, followed by a lengthy recovery of six to eight weeks. During this time, your overall activity, along with your ability to drive safely while on pain medications, will be severely limited.
Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE): Although some women are not informed of this adenomyosis treatment, we want you to know that it can effectively reduce or eliminate your adenomyosis symptoms. Uterine Fibroid Embolization, or UFE, is a minimally invasive, non-surgical procedure with a much shorter recovery time than hysterectomy. In fact, most women are back to normal activity after only one to two weeks.
Although UFE has most often been associated with treating uterine fibroids, it is available to treat adenomyosis as well. During UFE treatment at USA Fibroid Centers, our experts use ultrasound to guide a tiny catheter into the blood vessels that supply blood to the adenomyosis tissue. Next, embolic particles are injected through the catheter to block the blood flow and ultimately alleviate your symptoms. The procedure is performed under light sedation with local anesthesia, and you can go home the same day to begin your new life. (Sounds a lot better than major surgery, doesn’t it?!)
What Is Adenomyosis?
Adenomyosis occurs when the inner lining of your uterus, also known as endometrial tissue, grows into the muscular wall of your uterus. Even though the tissue has been displaced, it continues to thicken, break down, and bleed during your menstrual cycle, which causes painful and uncomfortable symptoms.
Although symptoms can vary between women and range from mild to severe, some of the common issues associated with adenomyosis are:
- Painful periods
- Heavy bleeding during or in between your periods
- Abdominal pressure and bloating
What Causes Adenomyosis?
Unfortunately, adenomyosis causes are unknown. We do know that it is most commonly diagnosed in women who are in their later childbearing years and tends to resolve after menopause. Some studies suggest that hormones –– including estrogen and progesterone –– may be a factor.
Adenomyosis can be challenging to diagnose because adenomyosis symptoms are similar to several other conditions of the reproductive tract. If your doctor suspects you may have adenomyosis, they will likely order an ultrasound and/or MRI to look for signs of it. This can also rule out uterine fibroids, endometriosis, or other types of growths that may explain your symptoms. The reality is that your doctor may only be able to diagnose adenomyosis after ruling out other potential causes.
Adenomyosis vs. Endometriosis
You may be thinking that adenomyosis sounds an awful lot like endometriosis, but adenomyosis and endometriosis are different conditions. The main difference between adenomyosis and endometriosis is where the endometrial tissue is displaced. Endometriosis is a condition where tissue that should only be in the uterus grows outside of it and is found in other areas of the body. The most common locations for endometriosis are on your ovaries, fallopian tubes, or even organs not located in the pelvic area. Adenomyosis, as explained above, is caused by the tissue growing into the muscles in your uterus.
Adenomyosis vs. Fibroids
Unlike adenomyosis, uterine fibroids are benign tumors that grow in or on the uterus. They vary in size from that of a tiny pea to as large as a melon, and can grow individually or in clusters. Although some women don’t experience any issues from fibroids at all, others find their lives severely impacted.
Common fibroid symptoms include:
- Heavy and prolonged menstruation between or during your periods
- Anemia, which can lead to fatigue
- Pain during intercourse
- Frequent urination
- Constipation and/or bloating
- Pain in your pelvis or lower back
- Increased menstrual cramping
- Stomach swelling
Fibroids are not generally considered dangerous, but they do have the potential to damage surrounding organs and impact fertility. As with adenomyosis, uterine fibroids can be treated both surgically and non-surgically.
Adenomyosis Treatment at USA Fibroid Centers
At USA Fibroid Centers, we believe that women have the right to learn about all of their adenomyosis treatment options –– both surgical and non-surgical. To discover whether Uterine Fibroid Embolization is the right approach for you, we invite you to schedule an initial consultation with one of our top-rated specialists.