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    Adenomyosis and endometriosis: What’s the difference?

    Updated 29 September 2023 |
    Published 13 January 2020
    Fact Checked
    Medically reviewed by Dr. Allison K. Rodgers, Reproductive endocrinologist, infertility specialist, obstetrician, and gynecologist, Fertility Centers of Illinois, Illinois, US
    Written by Olivia Cassano
    Flo Fact-Checking Standards

    Every piece of content at Flo Health adheres to the highest editorial standards for language, style, and medical accuracy. To learn what we do to deliver the best health and lifestyle insights to you, check out our content review principles.

    Let’s take a closer look at the differences (and similarities) between adenomyosis and endometriosis.

    You might have heard of endometriosis, but what about adenomyosis? Here we take a look at both conditions, along with their symptoms, causes, and treatment options.

    Key takeaways

    • Adenomyosis is a condition where the tissue that usually lines the uterus (endometrium) grows into the muscle layer of the uterus. Endometriosis is when tissue similar to the endometrium grows outside of the uterus. 
    • Both adenomyosis and endometriosis can cause painful and heavy periods, pelvic pain, and pain when having sex. 
    • The exact cause of adenomyosis and endometriosis is still unknown, which makes both difficult to diagnose.
    • Treatment for both adenomyosis and endometriosis includes hormonal birth control, pain medications, and sometimes surgery.

    What are the similarities and differences between adenomyosis and endometriosis? 

    First things first: What exactly are endometriosis and adenomyosis? To explain the conditions, we need to do a quick biology lesson. Your uterus has a layer of tissue called endometrium. During your menstrual cycle, hormones cause this layer to build up to support a possible pregnancy. If you don’t get pregnant, the layer will shed. This is your period.  

    If you have endometriosis, tissue similar to the endometrium grows outside of your uterus, often affecting your reproductive organs such as your ovaries and uterine tubes. It could even grow in areas such as your bladder, bowels, rectum, or more rarely, your lungs, diaphragm, and kidneys. Just like the endometrium in your uterus, this tissue is also affected by your hormones, meaning it grows and bleeds throughout your cycle. This can lead to the surrounding tissue