My periods were long, heavy, and sometimes hard to contain.
I saw gynecologists who said there was nothing wrong with me, beyond a few fibroids.
An error in a medical checkup led me to discover I had adenomyosis.
For most of my life, my periods were so heavy that showering, sitting on the couch, and even sleeping would end up looking like a scene from "Dexter."
I saw gynecologists and specialists, but other than what they called "a few fibroids," no one ever found anything wrong with me. I had a separate set of red towels I used nine days a month.
When I was certain I was done having children, I had an endometrial ablation, a procedure that essentially melts the lining of the uterus. It was supposed to stop my menstruation forever, but it didn't take. I continued to have painful, heavy periods for another five years.
A medical mistake led to me learning that I had a condition called adenomyosis. And now, after a hysterectomy, I'm finally comfortable every single day of the month.
How I found out about adenomyosis
In 2021, an imaging tech mislabeled my ultrasound. This made my gynecologist think I had a large cyst, for which she referred me to a gynecological surgeon. "I find no cyst, but you do have a pretty advanced case of adenomyosis," he said. I thought he had mispronounced "endometriosis."
I was familiar with endometriosis, which happens when endometrial tissue invades neighboring pelvic organs — such as the ovaries, fallopian tubes, bowel, and bladder. I'd long suspected it to be the cause of my excruciating menstrual cramps.
He explained that adenomyosis also involves rogue endometrial cells, but instead of being outside the uterus, they grow into the myometrium, or uterine muscle walls, creating pockets of tissue that enlarge and thicken the uterus — sometimes doubling it in size — and causing overabundant periods that can last as long as nine or 10 days. My mystery was solved.
Both conditions are difficult to diagnose because other pelvic conditions can cause lower abdominal pain, prolonged menstruation, and spotting between periods.
I might never have found out about my condition were it not for the imaging error.
Endometriosis and adenomyosis can be found in the same patient, but adenomyosis tends toward people who have had at least one pregnancy. Adenomyosis has also been found to cause miscarriage and premature labor.
Since neither are technically life-threatening, doctors usually treat for comfort using nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Some may prescribe hormone medications, including birth-control pills or an intrauterine device, to prevent new endometrial tissue from growing or to slow the growth of existing endometrial tissue.
I opted for a hysterectomy as a permanent solution
With endometriosis, the cells and scar tissue can be surgically removed, and the patient can go on to have normal pregnancies.
But the procedures used to control the chronic bleeding and anemia of adenomyosis involve some form of sterilization.
You can choose between a uterine artery embolization, which surgically staunches uterine blood flow; an endometrial ablation, which was the surgery I had that didn't take; or the only sure, permanent cure: a hysterectomy, which removes at least the uterus and maybe the tubes and ovaries.
I opted for the permanent cure this time last year, and it changed my life.
The surgeon removed my uterus and fallopian tubes. He left my ovaries to prevent hormonal fluctuations, so I still have PMS symptoms once a month, but it's such a small price to pay for the relief it's brought me.
Gone is the debilitating pain that used to lay me up in bed for a week. I never have to worry about ruining my couch or my sheets or the seats in my car. I've even retired my set of red towels.
Read the original article on Insider