Endometriosis ('endo') is not the only reason a woman may have painful and/or heavy periods. There can be a few other reasons as well. Adenomyosis and fibroids are two such conditions. If you undergo a pelvic ultrasound and any other imaging and everything comes back unremarkable with no cysts, fibroids, nodules, or growths than it can merely be a case of increased estrogen and/or low progesterone contributing to the increased bleeding or pain. These hormone shifts can occur due to increased stress hormone ‘cortisol’ production, insulin dysregulation, gut dysbiosis, mold exposure, or something else.
Since April is Adenomyosis Awareness Month  and because the symptoms can be similar to endometriosis, which you have just read about or can read about in the previous post, let’s take a deeper dive into adenomyosis Often, a clinician will include both adenomyosis and endometriosis in their work-up when a woman is complaining of heavy and painful periods.
Adenomyosis is the growth of endometrial cells/tissue which pushes into the muscle layer (myometrium) of the uterus . To recap, endometriosis is the growth of endometrial tissue outside of the uterus. Since adenomyosis is constrained to the uterus, if a partial hysterectomy is performed to remove the uterus, the condition will be “cured” as it isn’t found outside of the uterus. In endometriosis, a partial hysterectomy will not resolve the issue if there is endometrial tissue outside of the uterus such as in the abdomen. This extra-uterine endometrial tissue will still respond to estrogen unless that tissue is surgically removed in that localized spot.
- Heavy bleeding
- Passing of large clots
- Severe, stabbing pain in the pelvic area during your period
- Abdominal pressure or bloating
Once the history taking process is complete and the patient presents with the symptoms above, a transvaginal ultrasound and/or MRI  will be ordered which can diagnose adenomyosis. This makes the condition quicker and easier to diagnose than 'endo'.
Since the symptoms of both adenomyosis and 'endo' are similar, conventional medical management for adenomyosis often involves the same which is Tylenol or NSAIDs like Ibuprofen to deal with the pain. Since it is a condition that can arise from estrogen dominance, often the birth control pill will be recommended to help "balance the hormones out". To learn more about what the birth control pill does, read this.
From a naturopathic approach, there are herbs and supplements to help modulate estrogen levels and support increasing progesterone if needed. We do have natural anti-inflammatory herbs to help with reducing inflammation and pain. Acupuncture can also be beneficial for pain relief. While we are providing you with methods for pain relief, we are helping you figure out the cause. For example, did the estrogen dominance come about due to increased physiological stress (inflammation, infection) or mental/emotional stress and treating that cause if it is still present to help balance the hormones.
Do you have painful periods and are struggling to figure out what is going on behind your excruciating menstrual symptoms? Wondering if you have adenomyosis? Or perhaps you have been diagnosed with this and want a different approach to management so you may not need to take the birth control pill or tons of Advil all the time?
You are welcome to book a naturopathic initial consultation so we can go through your health history, figure out the cause of your symptoms, and get you some natural relief. If you are located outside Alberta, you can contact me via the contact form and I can help you find a naturopathic doctor in your area.