What is adenomyosis? Naga Munchetty’s condition explained and how it differs from endometriosis
BBC presenter Naga Munchetty has revealed she has a debilitating womb condition called adenomyosis.
Speaking on BBC Radio 5 live, the newsreader told listeners how, over the weekend, she had such acute symptoms that her husband had to call an ambulance.
“The pain was so terrible I couldn’t move, turn over, sit up. I screamed non-stop for 45 minutes,” she said.
“Right now as I sit here talking to you, I am in pain. Constant, nagging pain. In my uterus. Around my pelvis. Sometimes it runs down my thighs – and I’ll have some level of pain for the entire show and for the rest of the day until I go to sleep.”
What is adenomyosis?
The wall of the womb is made up of two layers. The outer muscle layer is called the myometrium and the inner lining is called the endometrium.
Adenomyosis is a condition in which the cells that form the endometrium are found in the myometrium, where they are not normally present. It can affect the whole womb or just one part of the womb.
It is similar to endometriosis, a condition in which tissue similar to the lining of the womb grows in other places, such as the ovaries and fallopian tubes.
The cause of adenomyosis is not known.
Approximately 20 per cent of people attending a gynaecology clinic will have adenomyosis, University College Hospital says, though not all of these will be symptomatic. Around a third will suffer few or no symptoms.
What are the symptoms of adenomyosis?
Adenomyosis is a benign condition, which means it is not known to be precancerous, and it does not cause risk of serious illness or death. However, symptoms can be very troublesome for some people.
Symptoms people might experience include:
- heavy periods that last for a long time;
- severe period pain;
- a feeling of pressure in the tummy;
Less common symptoms include pain during sexual intercourse and pain related to bowel movements.
There is no evidence to suggest adenomyosis affects becoming pregnant naturally. However, there is some recent evidence to suggest adenomyosis may reduce the chances of successful fertility treatment in people who have struggled to conceive naturally.
How is adenomyosis diagnosed?
The NHS says: “When you see your doctor about your symptoms, they’ll carry out what is called a pelvic examination. They’ll look at your vulva, vagina and cervix (the opening between the vagina and the womb) to see if there is something that could be causing your symptoms. Sometimes other tests might be needed. Your doctor will discuss this with you and you can ask any questions that you might have.
“You might be referred to a specialist who’ll carry out more tests. This might include an ultrasound or an MRI, which will allow a doctor.”
How is adenomyosis treated?
The NHS says “adenomyosis is not a life-threatening condition, but the symptoms can have a big impact on your day-to-day life, so it’s important to get the support you need”.
Depending on a person’s symptoms, there are different options to treat adenomyosis, including:
- anti-inflammatory medication to help relieve mild pain;
- treatment during periods to help reduce the amount of menstrual blood loss;
- hormone therapy such as the contraceptive pill, to help control heavy or painful periods;
- a hysterectomy (removal of the womb) – this would only be considered in extreme cases, where other treatments do not work and if a person does not wish to become pregnant.
Find out more about adenomyosis and its treatments here.