Early symptoms of adenomyosis

The early symptoms of adenomyosis tend to appear late in the child-bearing years after having children – especially in women aged 40-50 who have had at least one pregnancy – , and generally disappear following menopause when production of estrogen declines. This condition occurs when the endometrial tissue grows into the muscular wall of the uterus. The displaced tissue continues to thicken, break down, and bleed with each menstrual cycle, resulting in an enlarged uterus and painful, heavy periods. However, the symptoms are often imperceptible, being slightly uncomfortable at most. A telling sign is a lower abdomen that seems larger or feels tender.

When symptoms of adenomyosis are present, they include the following:

·         Heavy or prolonged menstruation.

·         Severe cramping.

·         Dysmenorrheal (sharp pain during menstruation).

·         Menstrual cramps that last throughout the period and become worse with age.

·         Pain during sexual intercourse.

·         Blood clots that pass during the period.

There is no known cause for adenomyosis, though experts have posited several theories.

Possible causes of adenomyosis

Invasive tissue growth

Direct invasion of endometrial cells from the uterus lining into the uterine walls.

Developmental origins

From endometrial tissue deposited  within the uterine muscle when the uterus first formed in the fetus

Childbirth-related uterine inflammation

A swelling of the uterine lining during the post-partum period might break the normal boundary of cells that line the uterus.

Stem cell origins

Bone marrow stem cells may invade the uterine muscle, causing adenomyosis.


Regardless of the cause or causes, there are a few risk factors that put a woman at an increased risk of developing adenomyosis; they are having undergone a previous uterine surgery like a C-section or fibroid removal, being middle age, and having given birth to a child. The pain and excessive bleeding that result from this condition are not dangerous, but they can have a disruptive effect on the lives of women with adenomyosis. Physical and emotional complications include:

·         Chronic anemia.

·         Fatigue.

·         Depression.

·         Irritability.

·         Anxiety.

·         Anger.

·         Feelings of helplessness.

Moreover, painful menstruation can cause the person to miss work or school, as well as put a strain on relationships, while the unpredictability of the bleeding may lead to avoiding once-pleasurable activities.

This condition may be difficult to diagnose because other uterine disease may resemble the early symptoms of adenomyosis, including fibroid tumors (leiomyomas), uterine cells growing outside the uterus (endometriosis) and growths in the uterine lining (endometrial polyps). Though several tests can steer a doctor toward an adenomyosis diagnosis – namely pelvic exam, ultrasound, MRI, or endometrial biopsy – a hysterectomy (uterus-removal surgery) is the only method for examining the uterus in such a way as to confirm or rule out adenomyosis. Furthermore, a hysterectomy is the only definitive cure, especially in cases of severe pain. In less serious cases, the doctor may recommend other avenues of relief such as:

·         Anti-inflammatory medications (for instance, ibuprofen).

·         Hormone medications.

·         Soaking in a warm bath.

·         Wearing a heating pad on the abdomen.

Related: The Ghost of Endometriosis Haunts the Women of the World