What’s the difference: Adenomyosis vs. Endometriosis?

The tissue that lines the uterus is known as endometrium. The endometrium changes with each menstrual cycle: it thickens to prepare the uterus to support the implantation of a fertilized egg and the development of a fetus. If there is no fertilized egg, the tissue breaks down and is followed by menstrual bleeding. This is part of a normal menstrual cycle.

Both adenomyosis and endometriosis are conditions related to the uterine lining and can sound very similar. Both involve a defect in how the uterus sheds its lining and both can cause very painful periods. Because they are so similar, it’s common for patients to go undiagnosed or even misdiagnosed for years (read about Gabrielle Union’s experience with adenomyosis and misdiagnosis). There’s also the unfortunate misconception that periods are painful and you should “just deal with them”; that is why a lot of patients fail to discuss their symptoms with their doctor.  

The noted difference with adenomyosis vs. endometriosis is where and how the lining is shed. With Adenomyosis it grows and sheds in the actual muscle of the uterus instead of the internal wall, whereas with endometriosis the lining grows and sheds on the outside of the uterus.

What is Adenomyosis?

Adenomyosis is a condition when the uterus becomes enlarged because the lining that normally grows on the inside of the uterus starts growing in the muscular tissue. This can cause very painful periods as the blood seeps through the uterine walls and through the vaginal canal. 

What is Endometriosis?

Endometriosis is when the tissue that normally lines your uterus grows on the outside of your uterus affecting the surrounding pelvic structures, such as the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and the pelvis. This can also cause very painful periods especially since the shedded lining cannot exit through the vaginal canal and remains trapped.

Symptoms of Adenomyosis vs. Endometriosis

Overlapping symptoms of adenomyosis vs. endometriosis like painful periods or pain during sex, are one of the main reasons why these two are so commonly misdiagnosed. 

What are the symptoms of Adenomyosis?

While you might not show any signs of Adenomyosis there are a few symptoms you and NYC Fibroid specialists at Viva Eve specialists can still look out for.

What are the symptoms of Endometriosis?

Usually it is clear when you have endometriosis because of the pain it causes during menstruation. There are other telling signs of endometriosis too, including a specific ovarian cyst called ​​endometrioma, which normally develops in the late stages of endometriosis. Some of the symptoms of endometriosis are very similar to the ones listed above.

  • Pain during sex
  • Severe cramps or sharp pain
  • Heavy or irregular periods
  • Infertility
  • Endometriomas
  • Pain in your lower abdomen
  • Digestive problems
  • Chronic fatigue

The difference in symptoms with adenomyosis vs. endometriosis

With adenomyosis the womb actually swells and the lining gets thicker because of the way the uterine lining is shed. This is not the case in endometriosis, with endometriosis the lining actually spreads outward.

Causes of Adenomyosis vs. Endometriosis

The differences in what causes adenomyosis vs. endometriosis are uncertain, although it seems adenomyosis is likely linked to hormones, while endometriosis has several potential causes that are often linked to genetics or lifestyle.

What are the causes of Adenomyosis?

While the causes of adenomyosis are unknown it’s possible that you are more likely to develop adenomyosis if any of the following applies:

  • If you have had abdominal surgery like a c-section
  • If you have gone through menopause

What are the causes of Endometriosis? 

While the causes of endometriosis aren’t certain, there are people who are more likely to develop endometriosis. 

  • If you started your period earlier in life you are more likely to develop endometriosis. 
  • If you have irregular periods you are more likely to develop endometriosis.

Treatment for Adenomyosis vs. Endometriosis

When it comes to Adenomyosis vs. Endometriosis, some of the treatment options overlap. To help determine which procedure is best for you, our NYC Ob/Gyn specialists might recommend an endometrial biopsy.

How do you treat Adenomyosis?

  • Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) has proven to be a very effective treatment for fibroids as well as for adenomyosis. This is a great option if you are looking to avoid surgery.  
  • Hormonal Therapy can help regulate the symptoms of adenomyosis. 
  • Laparoscopic surgery is minimally invasive and is sometimes known as “keyhole surgery” and can be used to further examine, diagnose, and remove scar tissue.

How do you treat Endometriosis?

  • Hormonal Contraceptives like the pill or IUD can be a long term option for regulating symptoms of endometriosis. 
  • Hormonal Therapy can treat the symptoms.
  • Laparoscopic surgery for endometriosis is the same minimally invasive, “keyhole surgery” that has the ability to diagnose endometriosis with certainty.  

Viva Eve’s expert NYC Ob/Gyns will listen to all your concerns and make sure to run every possible diagnostic test to provide you with a correct diagnosis.  Our experts are uniquely equipped to distinguish the difference between adenomyosis and endometriosis and recommend a course for treatment that is right for you and your unique circumstance.

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