So many menstrual symptoms can leave you stuck with an adenomyosis vs endometriosis diagnosis. That’s because, if you experience painful periods, heavy bleeding, and chronic pelvic pain, your symptoms could mean a few different things. First, you could have fibroids. But there are two other diagnoses that might apply: endometriosis, a condition in which endometrial tissue leaves your uterus and implants in other parts of the body. When you start your period, this rogue endometrial tissue sheds as well, causing you to bleed in your pelvis and beyond. This bleeding can leave you with cysts, scar tissue, and adhesions.
Adenomyosis also causes these kinds of symptoms, but it is a separate condition. With adenomyosis, endometrial tissue lodges itself deep in the muscle of the uterus. It does not leave the uterus.
While initial symptoms seem to be similar, there are several ways in which these conditions affect you differently.
Distinguishing Symptoms of Adenomyosis
As we mentioned, both endometriosis and adenomyosis leave women with pelvic pain and heavy bleeding. What’s different is the timing of that discomfort: women with adenomyosis usually experience that pain around their periods. Women with endometriosis have period pain, but often also experience pain with bowel movements and at other times in their cycle.
Both conditions result from uterine tissue growing outside your uterus. But with adenomyosis, that tissue also penetrates the muscular wall of your uterus, developing inside the tissue. For many women, this triggers symptoms that are far more invasive than those associated with endometriosis.
With adenomyosis, your period could feel like it’s gushing out. This could lead to iron deficiency, anemia and dizziness. And that’s on top of the chronic pelvic pain and uncomfortable sex we already discussed. Of course, many of these symptoms might also mean fibroids or endometriosis. Which is why your healthcare provider may go through several diagnostic tests to get you the proper diagnosis.
Adenomyosis vs Endometriosis: Differing Diagnosis Methods
Endometriosis can be tough to diagnose, which is why many women can only confirm they have this condition after laparoscopic surgery (a doctors insert a thin tube with a light and camera into a small incision in your stomach. This tube lets them see the lesions, cysts, and adhesions that confirm this condition.)
In contrast, women with adenomyosis can usually receive their diagnosis with an MRI or transvaginal ultrasound. These minimally invasive tools can also confirm the scope of your condition: if you have just a few cysts in your uterus, your adenomyosis is considered focal. If the tissue is widespread within your uterus, you will be diagnosed as having diffuse adenomyosis.
Treating Adenomyosis: UAE Can Help
For both endometriosis and adenomyosis, there are a wide variety of treatment options. These include options as simple as birth control pills or an IUD, to an array of surgeries, some as serious as hysterectomy.
Hysterectomy is the only cure for these conditions, but other options can help control your symptoms. For women with adenomyosis, there is a newer treatment available: UAE, or Uterine Artery Embolization. (This treatment may also be called UFE, uterine fibroid embolization, but the process is the same.)
With UAE, particles are injected into the uterine artery to block the blood flow to the specific problem area in your uterus. The goal is to deprive the tissue of both blood and oxygen, so your condition will abate. The procedure involves an overnight stay in the hospital.
Our doctors use three types of particles: smaller, normal and larger particles. This new protocol has increased UAE’s effectiveness rate to 80%. For this reason, UAE seems to be an excellent short term treatment option for many women.
If you have adenomyosis and are seeking relief, we’re here to help. Go online and schedule a consultation at our Houston area adenomyosis center. Or, to speak with one of our doctors, please give us a call anytime at 713-575-3686.