Adenomyosis is a medical condition that can cause a number of life-changing symptoms. This idiopathic condition typically develops in women who have had children or uterine surgery or are middle-aged. Today, our feminine health experts at North Texas Fibroid in Flower Mound, TX are taking a closer look at this condition, including how serious it is, what symptoms usually occur, and who is at risk of developing this condition.
Is Adenomyosis a Serious Condition?
Adenomyosis can be considered a serious condition. It is benign, in other words, it is not life-threatening. However, the symptoms can affect your quality of life significantly. In some cases, this condition is asymptomatic. In other cases, only mild discomfort occurs. For example, you may feel lower abdominal pressure or tenderness due to significant uterine enlargement.
Women who suffer from this condition and experience serious symptoms often suffer from chronic pelvic pain. Sometimes, though, they only suffer from dysmenorrhea. Dysmenorrhea is a condition that presents with sharp pelvic pain or extreme cramping while menstruating. Dyspareunia, or pain during sex, is another common serious symptom. Finally, this condition can result in prolonged or heavy menstrual bleeding.
What Causes This Condition?
To reiterate, this is an idiopathic condition. In other words, there is no known cause for it. However, there are a number of theories. One such theory is that invasive tissue growth is responsible for the development of this condition. Specifically, you may develop this condition if the muscle making up your uterine wall is invaded by the endometrial cells from your uterine lining. One way this can happen is during a C-section.
There also may be developmental origins. It is possible that endometrial tissue penetrates the uterine muscle when the fetus grows a uterus. It is also suspected that severe uterine lining inflammation after giving birth can give endometrial cells the opportunity to invade the uterus. Finally, this condition may be caused by the invasion of bone marrow stem cells in the uterine muscle.
What Are the Risk Factors of Developing This Condition?
One of the most significant risk factors of developing this condition is your age. Most of the time, women who develop this condition are in their 40s or 50s. One possible reason for this is that the older you are, the more estrogen you have been exposed to compared to women in their 20s or 30s. Childbirth is another significant risk factor. Finally, your risk of developing this condition increases significantly if you have had uterine surgery, like:
- Fibroid removal
- Dilatation and curettage (D&C)
Do I Need Treatment?
You may want to strongly consider treatment for this condition if it is affecting your quality of life. For example, if sex is painful and over-the-counter NSAIDs don’t ease your pain, a feminine health expert can provide you with a more effective treatment. Furthermore, treatment from a medical professional may be right for you if you bleed so heavily while menstruating that you can no longer enjoy your hobbies, like triathlons or hiking.
Is There Anything I Can Do at Home to Improve My Symptoms?
Depending on the severity of your symptoms, at-home symptom relief methods may not be effective. However, you may benefit from soaking in a warm bath or applying a hot water bottle or heating pad to your lower abdomen. Furthermore, you may experience symptom relief from taking OTC NSAIDs.
For the greatest chance of success, if you have regular periods, start to take an NSAID a day or two before your period is supposed to start. Continue to take it throughout your cycle to reduce painful inflammation and blood flow.
What Other Treatments May Be More Effective?
If you suffer from extreme pain or heavy bleeding, a hormone-containing patch or vaginal ring may improve your symptoms. In some cases, birth control pills containing both estrogen and progestin may improve your symptoms. In others, relief may be found in a contraceptive method that contains only progestin, like an intrauterine device or continuous-use birth control pill. Such contraceptives often result in amenorrhea, or the absence of periods.
If neither heat nor drugs nor intrauterine contraceptives provide relief, a hysterectomy may be the only solution for you. A hysterectomy is a procedure performed to remove the uterus. There is no need to have your ovaries removed to provide pain and other symptom relief.
Am I a Good Candidate for a Hysterectomy?
You can generally expect to be a good hysterectomy candidate if you have exhausted all nonsurgical treatment methods. However, you may need to hold off on this procedure if you want to have children in the future. To find out whether a hysterectomy is a good fit for you, it is imperative that you attend an initial evaluation.
How Will I Need to Prepare for a Hysterectomy?
To be considered a good hysterectomy candidate, you must be able to follow all preparation instructions. For example, you must be prepared to quit smoking for several days prior to your procedure. Nicotine consumption can affect your breathing during surgery and slow your recovery significantly. You should also increase your intake of vitamin C to facilitate a faster recovery and refrain from taking blood-thinning pharmaceuticals.
You should also make a point to drink plenty of fluids in the week before your procedure. Hydration makes it more likely that you will be able to pass bowel movements normally after surgery. Also, make sure you have a ride home and time to take off from work to recover.
What Can I Expect During My Recovery if I Get a Hysterectomy?
You can generally expect hysterectomy recovery to take six weeks to complete. During this time, you will not be allowed to lift anything weighing more than 10 pounds. Also, you will not be allowed to have anything in your vagina for eight weeks post-op. When you come in for your post-op evaluation to discuss how your recovery is progressing, we will advise you on whether you can resume sex two months after surgery.
Note,that these restrictions apply to women who have a complete hysterectomy. These restrictions will not apply if you only get a subtotal hysterectomy (in which your cervix is not removed).
How Is This Condition Diagnosed?
Adenomyosis can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms are often similar to other uterine conditions, like endometrial polyps, endometriosis, or fibroid tumors. To find out whether you suffer from this condition, you will need to come in for an initial consultation to discuss your symptoms. If we suspect that no other uterine condition is the cause of your symptoms, we will conduct a pelvic exam and use imaging tests to verify our suspicion.
How Should I Prepare for My Appointment?
To prepare for your appointment, you should make a list of medical information, including when you started menstruating, how often your periods come, how long they last, and how heavy they are. You also should be prepared to talk about your history of pregnancy and childbirth. Also, note all of the symptoms you are experiencing, when they began, and when they occur. You should also note anything you notice that exacerbates or improves them.
Make sure you note all medications and dietary supplements, including vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes, that you take. You may find it helpful to keep a journal and write down what time you take what drugs or supplements and in what dose. Finally, you should make a list of questions you want to ask, like under what circumstances surgery is appropriate, how your ability to conceive is affected, or whether certain drugs can improve your symptoms.
What Questions Can I Expect?
Be prepared for us to ask you whether you could be pregnant and when your last period was. Also, be prepared to discuss whether you are on birth control and what birth control method you use if you are on birth control. Moreover, we will ask you when your symptoms typically occur and how severe they are. Additionally, be prepared to advise us on:
- Whether symptoms seem related to your cycle
- What seems to improve your symptoms
- What seems to exacerbate your symptoms
Schedule an Appointment Today
Adenomyosis isn’t a life-threatening condition, but that doesn’t mean it’s not serious. For example, dysmenorrhea can be so painful that it can prevent you from going to work. Dyspareunia can strain your relationship. If you suspect you suffer from this condition, we can help. Contact us today at North Texas Fibroids in Flower Mound, TX to schedule an evaluation. We also have conveniently located offices in Cedar Hill and Dallas.