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Endometriosis Vs. Adenomyosis

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  • While both endometriosis and adenomyosis affect your endometrium, there are major differences between these two conditions
  • Endometriosis occurs when endometrial tissue is found outside your uterus. But if you have adenomyosis, this means that portions of endometrial tissue have grown inside your uterus
  • Both conditions can lead to major complications if they aren’t addressed immediately

At first glance, it may seem like endometriosis and adenomyosis are similar conditions. They’re both gynecological conditions that affect the tissue lining your uterus called the endometrium.1,2 As the Mayo Clinic highlights, this tissue thickens, breaks down and bleeds during a woman’s monthly period, whether you have endometriosis or adenomyosis.3,4

However, there are key differences that set the two diseases apart. As discussed, endometriosis is characterized by abnormal growth of endometrial tissue outside a woman’s uterus.5 However, if you have adenomyosis, this means that the endometrial tissue has developed inside your uterus’ muscle wall instead.6

The possible causes of both conditions are different too. Endometriosis can develop due to retrograde menstruation,7 endometrial cell circulation,8 genetics9,10 and a weakened immune system.11 On the other hand, adenomyosis may arise because of childbirth-linked uterine inflammation, development of invasive tissue, fetal development and bone marrow stem cells.12

Symptoms You Should Watch Out For

Some symptoms of endometriosis and adenomyosis may be similar. This may make it difficult to determine which of these two health problems is affecting you. Women with either of these conditions suffer from:13,14

  • Pain during sexual intercourse
  • Dysmenorrhea15,16
  • Pelvic pain
  • Discomfort during bowel movements
  • Heavy menstrual bleeding

However, there are differences you need to consider too. If your uterus has grown two or three times its normal size, or if the lower part of your abdomen is tender,17 these symptoms are major hallmarks of adenomyosis.18 With endometriosis, you may struggle with other issues such as fatigue, diarrhea, nausea19 or vomiting, and possibly even experience lower back pain or pass bloody stool or urine.20

Age Groups Usually Affected With These Conditions

Endometriosis and adenomyosis target different age groups too. According to the Johns Hopkins Medicine Library, endometriosis affects roughly 2% to 10% of women between 25 and 40 years old.21 On the other hand, adenomyosis is mostly seen in older women who are 40 to 50 years old.22

These Complications Can Be Catastrophic

Both these diseases can result in complications if not diagnosed and addressed immediately. People with endometriosis may be at risk for:23,24

  • Endometriomas25 These benign cysts are filled with thick and old blood26 that can develop when the condition affects your ovaries.27 Also called chocolate cysts,28 endometriomas appear in 17% to 44% of women with endometriosis.29
  • Infertility — Conceiving a child when you have endometriosis may be difficult.30 According to a 2010 study published in the Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics, “About 25[%] to 50% of infertile women have endometriosis, and 30[%] to 50% of women with endometriosis are infertile.”31
  • Ovarian cancer32 Authors of a 2017 Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention study stated that a higher risk for epithelial ovarian cancer was seen in people with endometriosis.33
  • Endometriosis-associated adenocarcinoma — In this 2013 case study, a woman who underwent three laparoscopies for endometriosis was diagnosed with a grade 1 endometrioid adenocarcinoma after her third procedure.34

If you have adenomyosis, you may be predisposed to:

  • Chronic anemia —Women who struggle with increased heavy bleeding may experience fatigue,35 weakness or tiredness. They may also be prone to anemia or an iron deficiency.36
  • Pregnancy complications — In this 2017 Reproductive Medicine and Biology study, Japanese women diagnosed with adenomyosis had a higher risk for miscarriage (before and after 12 weeks of pregnancy), preterm birth, fetal growth restriction, high blood pressure levels, intrauterine infections and cervical problems.37
  • Endometrial and thyroid cancers — Results of a 2018 PLoS One study showed that the risk for endometrial and thyroid cancers was higher among women diagnosed with adenomyosis.38

MORE ABOUT ENDOMETRIOSIS

Endometriosis: Introduction

What Is Endometriosis?

Endometriosis Symptoms

Endometriosis Causes

Is Endometriosis Hereditary?

Endometriosis Stages

Endometriosis Treatment

Endometriosis in Pregnancy

Endometriosis vs Adenomyosis

Endometriosis Prevention

Endometriosis Diet

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Endometriosis Prevention

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