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Adenomyosis and endometriosis

Written by Emma McGeorge

Let’s be honest, adenomyosis and endometriosis can be painful conditions to handle. Dealing with heavy menstrual bleeding, abnormal uterine bleeding, and the chronic pain that accompanies these issues can be exhausting. And if you’re dealing with the symptoms without having a diagnosis, the stress and anxiety that comes with not knowing what’s going on with your body can add to your restlessness, fear, and even feelings of hopelessness.

But you don’t have to go through this alone. Let’s examine how uterine adenomyosis and endometriosis can affect endometrial tissue in your uterine cavity, influence your menstrual cycle, and how you can deal with endometriosis pain, adenomyosis symptoms, and other severe symptoms associated with these conditions.

What’s the Difference Between Adenomyosis and Endometriosis?

The two conditions are quite similar and can happen together. Both involve endometrial tissue, but there are some differences. 

Adenomyosis usually affects women in their 40s and 50s, although it doesn't discriminate fully by age as younger women in their 20’s (and earlier) can also be affected by it. The cells that normally make the lining on the uterine wall, known as your endometrial tissue, end up growing in the muscle wall as well as the uterine wall - something that’s not supposed to happen.

Endometriosis usually affects women in their 30s and 40s (again, doesn’t discriminate) and happens when cells from the lining of the uterus - your endometrial cells - grow in areas outside the womb - again, places where endometrial tissue simply doesn’t belong. Usually, these cells don’t go outside the pelvic area (they mainly affect the ovaries, fallopian tubes and pelvic tissue). With endometriosis, endometrial tissue growth occurs outside of the uterus, acting in the same way as the cells inside the uterus during a period. Basically, these endometrial cells thicken, break down and bleed. And with nowhere to go they get stuck inside the body, causing all sorts of pain and problems, including endometriosis-associated infertility. It’s hard to diagnose endometriosis conclusively as well. It often requires surgery, as medical imaging doesn’t always pick up evidence of endometriosis.

Adenomyosis and Endometriosis Symptoms and Changes

If you’re dealing with adenomyosis or endometriosis you’re probably noticing a lot of changes going on.

The two conditions may have lots of symptoms in common. In fact adenomyosis symptoms and pelvic endometriosis symptoms feature lots of overlap. The changes you’re likely to experience with adenomyosis include:  

  • Recurrent pelvic pain
  • Referred pain to the back, hips and down the legs
  • Feelings of fatigue
  • Heavy menstrual bleeding 
  • High levels of pain during periods
  • Abnormal bleeding, often between periods
  • Pain during sex (read more about dyspareunia symptoms and treatment if this affects you)
  • Pressure on the bladder and rectum
  • Enlarged uterus

And with endometriosis, you may experience:

  • Pelvic pain
  • Heavy bleeding during menstruation
  • Painful periods
  • Painful intercourse
  • Painful bowel movements or urination
  • Bloating, nausea, diarrhea, or fatigue during menstruation.

All of these symptoms range from mild to severe, but sometimes (and frustratingly) there are no symptoms at all, which means you might not even know you’re suffering from either of these conditions! 

If you’re not already getting professional help, we encourage you to chat to your pelvic physiotherapist or doctor. It’s worth knowing that you don’t need a referral to see a pelvic physiotherapist and begin investigating exactly what’s going on with your pelvic health.

Relief for Adenomyosis and Endometriosis

Pain associated with both of these conditions can be as disheartening as it is debilitating. We’re here to help you manage your pain as you work through the root causes of symptoms with your endometrial tissue with your specialist. We’re ready to assist you in finding some relief!

Relief From Painful Periods

We probably don’t need to tell you how good heat therapy feels when you’re experiencing a painful period. It can improve circulation and blood flow and soothe the discomfort that comes with adenomyosis and endometriosis. The only downside about heat therapy is that you’re stuck lying down somewhere - and let’s face it, there are things you still need to get done. But instead of being couch ridden, there’s a mobile solution in TendHer reusable feminine soothers. These soothers can be worn while on the go, they’re your discreet little lifeline when you need relief.

These soothers are also great for pelvic floor pain and spasm, lower back pain, SIJ pain, toddler boo boos - you name it! Simply place them in a bowl of warm water and put them anywhere you need relief. Plus, they come in packs of two so you can have one heating while the other is in use. Constant relief right when you need it, wherever you need it!

You Don’t Have to Put Up With Pain During Sex

Both adenomyosis and endometriosis can cause sex to be a painful experience. If you’re wondering how to reduce pain during sex, Ohnut could be the answer. Ohnut acts as a buffer and allows you to control the depth of penetration during sex. Once you know the boundaries, you can relax and be in the moment (which is what we want, right?!) It’s also a great tool for other conditions like genito pelvic pain penetration disorder, returning to sex after baby, vaginismus, fibroids, menopause and more.

Has your doctor recommended you use a vaginal trainer?

Vaginal dilator therapy can help retrain your pelvic floor, allowing you to learn how to control, and relax, your pelvic floor muscles. Vaginal dilators can also help you warm up to sex if you’re feeling apprehensive or need to prepare your tissues and muscles.

Intimate Rose dilators are specially made from resilient silicone rubber to have a comfortable, natural texture. And they can be chilled to ease pain or warmed for extra comfort. They’re thoughtfully and beautifully-designed by a physical therapist who specializes in pelvic health and we think you’ll like them as much as we do!

While the solution to your pain may not come overnight, there are things you can do to encourage pelvic wellness and healing. Here’s to better and more pain-free days ahead!