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Adenomyosis: What Really Happens Down There?

Medically reviewed by Regina Victoria Boyles, MD · Pediatrics

Written by Fiel Tugade · Updated May 11, 2022

    Adenomyosis: What Really Happens Down There?

    It is quite normal to hear women complain about muscle cramps and some type of pain because it is their time of the month. However, what if the pain they are feeling is more than just a menstrual period? What happens down there when they go through the condition called adenomyosis? This article provides you with the answers to the most common questions about the condition. 

    What is Adenomyosis?

    Adenomyosis refers to the condition that takes place in the female reproductive system, specifically in the endometrial tissue that serves as the lining in the uterine wall (endometrium).


    It develops when this tissue extends into the myometrium, the uterus’ outer muscular walls. This excess tissue can double or triple the size of the uterus and still normally perform its original function, causing it to breakdown and bleed during every menstrual cycle. It may also lead to enlargement or thickening of the uterus.  As a result, a woman may experience abnormal uterine flow and very uncomfortable periods.

    This particular disease is prevalent among women who are in their 30s with a past experience of a full-term pregnancy. 

    It is also otherwise known as uterine adenomyosis. 

    How is Adenomyosis Different from Endometriosis?

    Both diseases, adenomyosis and endometriosis, are uterine tissue problems, which make a person feel extremely uncomfortable. Regular menstrual pain is nothing compared to these two conditions.

    Heavy menstrual bleeding is more likely with adenomyosis. It occurs within the muscle layer of the uterus, whereas endometriosis happens outside the uterus that may involve the ovaries, fallopian tubes, pelvic sidewalls, or bowel.

    Women around their 30s to 50s are often prone to this. Adenomyosis in older ladies may be related to longer estrogen exposure than in younger women. But, there are also cases in which younger ladies experience this condition.

    What Are the Causes of Adenomyosis?

    There is still no known cause identified for adenomyosis. However, studies and theories suggest that there is a link between uterine adenomyosis and one of the following:

    • Invasive tissue growth
    • Developmental origins
    • Stem cell origins
    • Uterine inflammation due to pregnancy and childbirth 

    What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Adenomyosis?

    There are some instances wherein it can show no obvious signs or symptoms, only minor discomfort. However, some women may still notice a few signs and experience some symptoms here and there, which include:

    How Is Adenomyosis Diagnosed?

    If you suspect that you have this condition, make sure to book an appointment with your gynecologist. Your gynecologist will run a few tests to assess your condition such as, but not limited to, the following:

    • Physical examination and evaluation of your symptoms, menstrual cycle, and even your family history
    • Ultrasound
    • Pelvic exam 
    • Endometrial biopsy
    • Imaging scans (i.e., magnetic resonance imaging or MRI)

    How Can Adenomyosis Be Treated?

    Treatment and management of adenomyosis may differ for every person experiencing it as it may depend on several factors like the severity of the illness and its symptoms. 

    Doctors may recommend nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen or naproxen) to help alleviate the pain from menstrual cramps. Others may also go for hormonal contraceptives like birth control pills, injectables, and IUDs to lessen both the bleeding and cramping. 

    On some occasions, surgery may be an option a woman may consider. Hysterectomy involves the removal of the uterus, so she would no longer suffer from any of the abovementioned kinds of pain and discomfort. 

    There is also the uterine artery embolization wherein a medical professional injects small particles or agents into blood arteries using a catheter in the groin. It aims to cut off the blood supply to the site of the adenomyosis, which can cause it to shrink.

    Key Takeaways

    The pain and discomfort associated with this disease may not be severe as other illnesses, however, it might cause disruptions in your day-to-day activities. 

    You may not notice it during its early stages, but the pain progresses over time. Let your doctor know about it to understand what happens down there for early and effective intervention.

    Learn more about women’s health issues here


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Regina Victoria Boyles, MD


    Written by Fiel Tugade · Updated May 11, 2022

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