What is Adenomyosis?
Pronounced : ~ A - den - o - my - o- sis, broken down it literally means adeno- (gland) myo- (muscle), and -osis (condition). First discovered in the 1800's, it was previously named 'endometriosis interna'. It is now recognised that adenomyosis actually differs from endometriosis and information published widely suggests these two disease
entities are found together in only 10% of cases.
Adenomyosis is defined as the presence of endometrial glands that appear within the tissues in the muscle of the uterus. The old tissue and blood cannot get out of the muscle and flow out of the cervix as normally occurs. The blood and tissue saturate the site swelling and causing intense pain in the form of menstrual cramps. The strength and intensity of these changes as the condition develops. At worst, it can feel like sudden labour pains, or the feeling of a weight pressing down on the bladder and bowel. Monthly uterine bleeding is often heavy as some of the blood finally escapes the muscle and results in prolonged spotting to the point in the worst cases of anemia and low iron store levels. It is often misdiagnosed as fibroids but can appear with other conditions such as ovarian cysts, prolapse and even gynecological cancers that can cause pelvic pain.
Who Gets Adenomyosis and Why?
Any woman, any age, however it is most often diagnosed in middle-aged women and women who have had children - however in the last nine years since the awareness campaign has been in full flow - women in their late teens and early twenties are being diagnosed far sooner - which goes some way to support the theory that the adenomyoma tissue may well be present within the uterine wall before puberty.
Scientists agree there is a link between the condition and the various hormones including estrogen, progesterone, prolactin, and follicle stimulating hormone and studies suggest imbalances of any of these may trigger the condition. Historical studies also claim risk factors include childbirth, tubal ligations, Caesarean sections, and termination of pregnancy.
In my research to date, I have established there appears to be a strong link with the over production of estrogen. It is known that the adenomyoma are estrogen dependent and that women with adenomyosis should avoid estrogen of all types - synthetic and naturally occuring. Even at low levels, estrogen mimicking chemicals can come from beverage bottles and food containers. The consensus is that they may work together with the body’s own estrogen to increase the risk of breast cancer and other estrogen dependant conditions, of which adenomyosis is one. My thought process: estrogen is essential if it can be produced naturally and helps maintain a healthy - well-balanced body, however any excess estrogen cannot be a good thing for someone with adenomyosis.
Can Adenomyosis Cause Infertility and further issues during pregnancy?
Because many women who have adenomyosis may have other conditions, it is difficult to tell precisely what role adenomyosis may play in fertility problems. However, studies have shown that adenomyosis may contribute to infertility and more generally, as the uterus becomes larger is it less likely to be able to accommodate for growth and stretch as easily. More women are coming forward giving evidence of failed IVF attempts and miscarriage. Research is very much needed into this area, and if you are currently aware of any work currently being carried out in this arena, we would all be very interested to learn more.