Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content


6-minute read

What is adenomyosis?

Adenomyosis is a condition that affects your uterus (womb). It can cause painful and heavy periods.

This condition affects 20% to 35% of females.

If you have adenomyosis, you might also have a similar condition called endometriosis. The features of these 2 conditions overlap.

What are the symptoms of adenomyosis?

Symptoms of adenomyosis can include:

The symptoms may be mild for some people. But they can also be severe enough to interfere with your work, study and enjoyment of life. Sometimes there are no symptoms.

CHECK YOUR SYMPTOMS — Use the Symptom Checker and find out if you need to seek medical help.

What causes adenomyosis?

Adenomyosis occurs when the cells that normally line the inside of your uterus also grow in the layer of muscle in the wall of the uterus.

It is not certain how or why the uterus-lining cells enter the muscle wall.

Adenomyosis is only seen in women in their reproductive years. It happens in response to the hormone oestrogen. It usually goes away after menopause when your oestrogen levels drop.

Illustration showing adenomyosis growing in the layer of muscle in the wall of the uterus.
Illustration showing adenomyosis growing in the layer of muscle in the wall of the uterus.

When should I see my doctor?

See your doctor if you have painful or heavy periods.

Also see your doctor if you have:

  • any unusual bleeding from your vagina
  • pain when having sex

FIND A HEALTH SERVICE — The Service Finder can help you find doctors, pharmacies, hospitals and other health services.

ASK YOUR DOCTOR — Preparing for an appointment? Use the Question Builder for general tips on what to ask your GP or specialist.

How is adenomyosis diagnosed?

Adenomyosis often takes time to diagnose.

Your doctor will talk to you about your symptoms and examine you. During the examination, they may notice your uterus is tender and enlarged.

Your doctor might recommend you have an ultrasound scan. In some cases, they may recommend magnetic resonance imaging (MRI scan).

Your doctor may also refer you to a specialist for further tests and treatment.

How is adenomyosis treated?

Your doctor will talk with you about the different treatments available. The choice of treatment will depend on your symptoms and stage of life. This includes thinking about whether you are planning a pregnancy or want to have a baby in your future.

Self-care measures

Warm baths and heat packs may help relieve the pain associated with adenomyosis.

Exercise, meditation or acupuncture may also be tried. But there is little to no research evidence showing that they improve the symptoms of adenomyosis.

Pain-relief medicines

If you have pain associated with adenomyosis, your doctor may recommend a trial of anti-inflammatory medicines. They may suggest that you take these medicines with paracetamol.

Hormonal treatments

Hormonal treatments can help relieve your pain and reduce heavy bleeding. They do this by regulating the oestrogen levels in your body.

Your doctor may recommend:

These hormonal treatments are forms of contraception, so you will not be able to get pregnant while using them properly.

It can take several months for your fertility to return after stopping some of these treatments. So, talk to your doctor about the most suitable treatments for your stage of life.


There are some surgical procedures that can be considered for the treatment of adenomyosis. These may involve removing:

  • abnormal areas of the muscle layer of your uterus
  • the lining of the uterus

Hysterectomy is an option for women with severe adenomyosis who have not responded to other treatments.

Talk to your doctor about what would be a suitable option for you, especially as these procedures can affect your fertility.

Can adenomyosis be prevented?

As the cause of adenomyosis is not fully understood, there is nothing you can do to prevent this condition.

Complications of adenomyosis

Adenomyosis can cause complications such as:

Resources and support

There is more information on adenomyosis from Endometriosis Australia.

You can call the healthdirect helpline on 1800 022 222. A registered nurse is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: August 2022

Back To Top

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Adenomyosis | Jean Hailes

Adenomyosis is a condition where cells similar to those that line the uterus are also in the muscle wall of your uterus. Studies suggest that about one in…

Read more on Jean Hailes for Women's Health website

Ovaries & uterus | Jean Hailes

Learn more about conditions and medical procedures related to your ovaries and uterus, including adenomyosis, fibroids, hysterectomy, cysts, polyps and…

Read more on Jean Hailes for Women's Health website

Period pain – dysmenorrhoea - Better Health Channel

Women of any age can experience painful periods and some women find periods are no longer painful after pregnancy and childbirth.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

What causes persistent pelvic pain? | Jean Hailes | Jean Hailes

Persistent pelvic pain (also called chronic pelvic pain) is a complex condition caused by a range of physical, psychological and social factors.

Read more on Jean Hailes for Women's Health website

Heavy periods (menorrhagia) | Jean Hailes

A heavy period (heavy menstrual bleeding) is when you lose lots of blood each period. About one in four women have heavy periods.

Read more on Jean Hailes for Women's Health website

Hysterectomy - Better Health Channel

The conditions that prompt a hysterectomy can often be treated by other means, and hysterectomy should only be a last resort.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Heavy Menstrual Bleeding

Read more on RANZCOG - Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Queensland Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Victorian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo

Healthdirect Australia acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to the Traditional Owners and to Elders both past and present.