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Adenomyosis VS Endometriosis: Understanding the Difference

Adenomyosis and endometriosis

Adenomyosis and endometriosis are similar, but they are certainly not the same. Some women can suffer from one or the other, and others suffer with both. What is different between these two conditions? It’s all discussed in this blog post!

 

Adenomyosis VS Endometriosis

In adenomyosis, the cells that line the uterus begin to grow into the uterus muscle, causing the wall of the uterus to grow thicker. This is different from endometriosis in which these cells start to grow outside the uterus. In endometriosis, the cells that line the uterus can be found on the ovaries, the fallopian tubes, in the pelvic area and on ligaments supporting the uterus. Both adenomyosis and endometriosis are similar in the way that they affect the endometrial tissue that is found on the inside of the uterus.

 

Risk Factors

Given that adenomyosis and endometriosis cause different growth of tissues and cells, there are also differences in what risk factors can lead to either condition. For adenomyosis, having a child or previously giving birth can increase the risk of developing the condition. Also, adenomyosis tends to be more common in women of age around 40 – 50 and have a higher risk of developing in women who have had previous surgeries that affect their uterus.

The risk factors for endometriosis are different. Women who are younger and of reproductive age more often develop endometriosis, and women who have heavy menstrual cycles, short cycles and also who developed their menstrual cycle early are more at risk. There is also a genetic aspect to endometriosis, with the risk increasing sevenfold if someone has a blood relative with the condition. Late menopause can also be a risk factor for the onset of endometriosis, whereas the symptoms of adenomyosis tend to lessen or go away following menopause.

 

Symptoms

Just as the risk factors for endometriosis and adenomyosis, so are the symptoms. Symptoms of endometriosis that are usually not experienced with adenomyosis include pain during bowel movements, fatigue and nausea. With adenomyosis, the pain is usually surrounding periods, along with heavy and prolonged bleeding and an enlarged uterus. For both adenomyosis and endometriosis, pain in the pelvis is a common symptom.

 

Diagnosis

There are different ways that doctors can diagnose endometriosis and adenomyosis. The conditions are similar, so it is important to find ways to be able to differentiate between them when someone is being diagnosed and treated. Doctors may diagnose endometriosis based on reports of pelvic pain, after examining the pelvis, however the only way to definitively diagnose endometriosis is through a surgery called  laparoscopy. During a laparoscopy, a thin tube with a camera is inserted into the abdomen. 

Adenomyosis can be diagnosed without surgery. One way to do this is through an MRI to examine whether the uterine wall is thicker than it should  be, suggesting the movement of cells into the uterus muscle. Other ways to diagnose adenomyosis include ultrasounds and pelvic exams.

 

Treatment

The treatment for both endometriosis and adenomyosis are similar, as both have impacts on the uterus. The treatments also vary depending on the degree of severity of the condition. The symptoms for both endometriosis and adenomyosis can be treated using pain medications and anti-inflammatory drugs used to reduce blood flow and cramps during menstruation and relieve pain in the pelvis. Hormone medications can also be used  to treat both adenomyosis and endometriosis, such as the birth control pill. Hormone replacement therapy can also be used in the treatment of endometriosis.

These treatments can scale up, and some women may need to have surgery to relieve their symptoms. Surgeries can be performed for endometriosis in which the lesions caused by the condition can be removed. In adenomyosis, the lining of the uterus, the endometrium, can be removed in a surgery known as endometrial ablation. A hysterectomy, the complete removal of the uterus, can also be used to treat both endometriosis and adenomyosis, depending  on the symptoms of the patient.

If you think you might suffer from some or all of the symptoms of either endometriosis or  adenomyosis, or are maybe not sure which one might apply to you, consult your doctor and discuss the symptoms you have been experiencing. There are also more articles and blog posts that you can find on the Hormone University website discussing both endometriosis and adenomyosis, so you can find more information there!

 

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