Adenomyosis

Definition

Adenomyosis is a thickening of the walls of the uterus. It occurs when endometrial tissue grows into the outer muscular walls of the uterus. This tissue forms the lining of the uterus.

Causes

The cause is not known. Sometimes, adenomyosis may cause the uterus to grow in size.

The disease most often occurs in women ages 35 to 50 who have had at least one pregnancy.

Symptoms

In many cases, there are no symptoms. When symptoms occur, they can include:

Exams and Tests

The health care provider will make the diagnosis if a woman has symptoms of adenomyosis that are not caused by other problems. The only way to confirm the diagnosis is by examining the tissue of the uterus after a surgery to remove it.

During a pelvic exam, the provider may find a soft and slightly enlarged uterus. The exam may also reveal a uterine mass or uterine tenderness.

An ultrasound of the uterus may be done. However, it may not give a clear diagnosis of adenomyosis. MRI can help distinguish this condition from other uterine tumors.

Treatment

Most women have some adenomyosis as they get close to menopause. However, only a few will have symptoms. Most women do not need treatment.

Birth control pills and an IUD that has progesterone can help decrease heavy bleeding. Medicines such as ibuprofen or naproxen can also help manage symptoms.

Surgery to remove the uterus (hysterectomy) may be done in women with severe symptoms.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Symptoms most often go away after menopause. Surgery to remove the uterus gets you rid of symptoms completely.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your provider if you develop symptoms of adenomyosis.


Review Date: 4/19/2018
Reviewed By: John D. Jacobson, MD, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Loma Linda University School of Medicine, Loma Linda Center for Fertility, Loma Linda, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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