Could you have adenomysosis? 

Painful periods can be caused by many different conditions – including uterine fibroids. However, there are other potential causes. And if your monthly cycle pain interferes with your daily activities, you may be able to get relief. But before you can  treat period pain, you need to know what causes it. 

Finding the cause of painful periods

At VIVA EVE, we always recommend you consult a physician to pinpoint the exact cause of your menstrual symptoms. Many women assume they have uterine fibroids and we write a lot about fibroids on this site.

But it’s worth noting that up to 20 percent of women with pain similar to fibroid symptoms actually have a uterine condition called adenomyosis (ad-uh-no-my-oh-sis)

What is adenomyosis?

Adenomyosis is a growth of the uterine lining into the uterine wall1. About a third of the women who have adenomyosis experience uncomfortable and painful symptoms. These — like heavy menstruation, pelvic pain, and frequent urination — can be severe.

“The problem with adenomyosis is that it isn’t abnormal tissue growing — like we see with fibroids,” explains Dr. Richard Shlansky-Goldberg, MD, Interventional Radiologist and Professor of Radiology, Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Surgery at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. “It’s normal tissue growing in an abnormal place, which can be more difficult to treat, especially if it fills the majority of the uterus. 

How do you treat adenomyosis?

Traditionally, a hysterectomy was the recommended treatment for adenomyosis. But hysterectomy is an emotionally-charged solution for women who still want to have children. Further, hysterectomy carry the risks of major surgery and organ removal, including pain and a long recovery time. “When it comes to the traditional adenomyosis treatment options available, women are often stuck between a rock and a hard place, especially if they don’t want a hysterectomy,” says Dr. Shlansky-Goldberg. 

More recently, women with adenomyosis can be treated with the minimally-invasive procedure, uterine fibroid embolization (UFE)

“Although UFE is commonly known as a treatment for uterine fibroids, it can also be used to treat adenomyosis,” explains Dr. Richard Shlansky-Goldberg, MD, Interventional Radiologist and Professor of Radiology, Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Surgery at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. “Medical therapy is an option, as is hysterectomy — but not every woman wants hormones or surgery, which makes UFE a viable alternative.” 

About UFE and adenomyosis — study findings

A study conducted by Dr. M. D. Kim, from Yonsei University College of Medicine in Seoul, Korea and published in the Journal of Vascular and Interventional Radiology was positive. Seventy-five percent of the adenomyosis patients who participated experienced resolution of symptoms lasting 18 to 48 months after UFE. 

Significantly, the 1-2-3 Protocol UFE treatment has an even higher success rate for adenomyosis. This protocol uses three differently sized particles (small, normal, and large) to block the uterine arteries.  The 1-2-3 Protocol has completely eliminated all of the affected uterine tissue and prevented symptom recurrence for 18 months in 80 percent of patients.

Adenomyosis patients who underwent the UFE procedure report significant improvement in their symptoms and in quality of life.

“If a woman still experiences symptoms immediately after a UFE procedure that has successfully blocked all sources of blood flow to the affected tissue, a second round probably won’t improve her condition,” Dr. Shlansky-Goldberg clarifies. “But if symptoms recur after a few years, it would make sense to take another look. Blood vessels have a way of making new pathways that could redirect blood to affected uterine tissue, causing symptoms to come back.”

Make sure you’re dealing with UFE experts for treatment

The doctors at VIVA EVE have years of experience treating both uterine fibroids and adenomyosis with UFE. Importantly, at VIVA EVE we provide high-quality, personalized care for each and every patient we see. We will partner with you to determine the best way to treat your problematic fibroids or adenomyosis.

Please click here or call 1-866-684-8238 to schedule an appointment with one of our fibroid experts.