What is it?
Adenomyosis, often referred to as the ‘evil sister’ of endometriosis, is a uterine condition in which endometrial cells from the inner lining of the uterus (the endometrium) migrate from that lining into the muscle wall of the uterus (the myometrium). As the cells respond to monthly hormonal changes, blood can get trapped in the myometrium producing a hard and enlarged uterus. The condition is believed to affect around 1 in 10 women/AFAB and although it is benign, adenomyosis can have a serious impact on a sufferer’s quality of life.
Symptoms are many and varied, but the most common are; severe period pain, heavy periods, lower abdominal pressure, an enlarged uterus and pain during sex. Beyond this, the condition can also impact the function of the bowel and bladder, cause leg pain, headaches, ovulation pain, nausea, fatigue and infertility – to name but a few. Some women may experience no symptoms at all, but for those who do, daily life can become a constant battle. The symptoms experienced worsen around certain points of a woman’s cycle, such as ovulation and her period, but can also be felt throughout the entire month. This can put pressure on a woman’s relationship with her partner and negatively impact her social and work life.
Until recently, the only definitive method of diagnosis was to perform a hysterectomy and examine the uterine tissue. However, it is now possible to diagnose most cases of adenomyosis via imaging (either a transvaginal ultrasound or an MRI), as a doctor is able to see the uterus, its lining and the muscular wall.
From diagnosis, the only cure for adenomyosis is a hysterectomy, however, there are a few management options for those for who do not want to undergo such a procedure. These include hormone medications such as the oral contraceptive pill or the hormonal coil, anti-inflammatory drugs to relieve pain, or, for certain women, uterine artery embolisation or endometrial ablation can be used.
Working with Adenomyosis
Adenomyosis can have a detrimental effect on a woman’s ability to work, as required activity such as commuting, spending long periods of time either sitting at a desk or on her feet can cause debilitating pain and fatigue depending on the severity of her symptoms.
Due to the nature of adenomyosis, many women feel embarrassed to inform their employers or colleagues of their condition. A general lack of understanding and popular knowledge of the condition exacerbates this problem, as individuals cannot simply say what they suffer from, but have to explain what it is in detail, deterring women from mentioning it at all. As a result, many women suffer in silence.
On this basis, it is crucial that further awareness of adenomyosis is raised so that the condition is more widely known. This would work to reduce associated stigma, reduce personal embarrassment and would allow employers to provide more options for sufferers to work around their pain, rather than simply suffer through it.
Rosy Murch is 25 years old and was finally diagnosed with adenomyosis 7 months ago. She’s been on a mission to raise awareness of the condition ever since. You can get in touch with Rosy and follow her journey over on Instagram.