Adenomyosis is a disease that occurs when the cells that normally
uterus grow into the muscular tissue of the uterine
wall. It occurs most often in women older than 30 who have had a full-term
pregnancy. It is rare in women who have not had a full-term pregnancy.
Adenomyosis does not occur after
menopause. But adenomyosis that was present
before menopause may be diagnosed after menopause. It may also be found in
tissue samples after pelvic surgery in postmenopausal women.
The cause of adenomyosis is not fully understood. Some
researchers believe that it is the result of damage to the inner wall of the
uterus during pregnancy, labor, delivery, or a surgical procedure.
Most women with adenomyosis do not have any symptoms.
Adenomyosis is frequently found in uterine tissue
biopsies after pelvic surgery such as
laparoscopy has been done. When symptoms are
present, they include:
Heavy or prolonged menstrual periods
Recent onset of menstrual cramping that is
gradually getting worse from one period to the next.
Exams and tests
When symptoms occur, the evaluation of suspected adenomyosis
History of symptoms, menstrual periods, and
Pelvic exam, which may reveal a large, soft, or tender
The diagnosis of adenomyosis can be made only after a pathologist
examines uterine wall tissue samples. Adenomyosis is often discovered after a
Most women with adenomyosis do not have any symptoms. When
pelvic pain or heavy menstrual bleeding is present, suspected adenomyosis is
often successfully treated with
nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). A
hysterectomy may be needed if you have severe symptoms
but are not approaching menopause. Symptoms go away after menopause is complete
or after hysterectomy.
What to think about
The use of birth control pills may make symptoms of heavy
bleeding or pain worse. Symptoms go away after menopause is complete or after a
When to call
If you have symptoms of adenomyosis, call your doctor to schedule an appointment.
ByHealthwise Staff Primary Medical ReviewerSarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine Specialist Medical ReviewerKevin C. Kiley, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology