Learn the Difference Between Adenomyosis and Endometriosis
Adenomyosis and Endometriosis are not the same condition. Although they can occur together, endometriosis is when endometrial cells (the lining of the uterus) are in a location outside of the uterus. Adenomyosis is when these cells exist or grow into the uterine wall. Although both can cause pain, endometriosis does not always cause heavy bleeding.
Women who suffer with GYN conditions know the interruptions that arise from pelvic pain and heavy bleeding. While there are multiple conditions that can cause these symptoms, endometriosis and adenomyosis are fairly common. That’s not to say they are normal.
Endometriosis occurs when cells from the uterine lining plants in areas outside of the uterus. The cells then act as though they would if they remained inside the uterus: they thicken, break down and bleed each month. The problem then is that the implants have no way to leave the body. The uterus is designed to funnel the broken down menstrual tissue out of the body with each cycle. Debris from the endometrial implants remains in the body, potentially causing other problems, including pelvic adhesions or infertility.
A pelvic exam, ultrasound or laparoscopy are used to diagnose endometriosis. The laparoscopic exam typically allows the doctor to make the most thorough evaluation of the condition, and how extensive it is.
Who Can Be Affected By Endometriosis?
Endometriosis can occur at any stage in a woman’s reproductive years.
Adenomyosis occurs when endometrial cells exist and grow into the walls of the uterus. Like endometriosis, the cells behave as they would normally act, and are affected each month with a woman’s period. The result of these menstrual cycles can be an enlarged uterus, pelvic pain and heavy bleeding.
Adenomyosis can only be truly diagnosed after a hysterectomy, with a full evaluation of the uterus. A doctor may suspect adenomyosis based on initial evaluations, including the symptoms described above, a pelvic exam, or ultrasound or MRI screenings. These can help to rule out other conditions that could be causing your symptoms, like fibroids or uterine polyps.
Who Can Be Affected By Adenomyosis
There is no consensus on the percentage of women who are affected by adenomyosis. Although it most commonly affects women in their forties and fifties, it can occur even among teenagers.
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