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What is adenomyosis, as BBC’s Naga Munchetty reveals diagnosis?

Naga Munchetty said the condition has left her screaming in pain (PA Archive)
Naga Munchetty said the condition has left her screaming in pain (PA Archive)

Today, presenter Naga Munchetty admitted she lives in constant pain and even nearly passed out while presenting on BBC Breakfast, needing to excuse herself from the show to go to the bathroom.

Speaking to the Independent, Ms Munchetty said that she was diagnosed with adenomyosis eight months ago, having never heard about the condition before then.

“I went to the loo and I thought I was going to pass out, but I threw up and then just came back,” the 48-year-old said.

Just this weekend, Ms Munchetty said that her husband had to call an ambulance for her, making it the first time they had ever called 999 in her life.

“I was writhing around, and moaning and screaming in pain,” recalled Ms Munchetty. “Eventually, I got to sleep after about 45 minutes.

“Then it happened again in the middle of the night and we had to call an ambulance because I couldn’t be moved. And I was just screaming.”

Despite affecting as many as one in 10 people with uteruses of reproductive age, many of those living with the condition complain about the difficulty of getting a diagnosis, largely due to how little is known about adenomyosis.

But what actually is adenomyosis, and what are the symptoms?

What is adenomyosis?

Adenomyosis is a condition that causes the lining of the womb, known as the endometrium, to bury into the muscular wall of the womb.

The condition bears some similarities to endometriosis, where this lining grows outside the womb, in places like fallopian tubes or the uterus.

Adenomyosis can affect the whole womb or just one part of the womb, depending on the severity. It’s not known what causes the condition.

While adenomyosis is not a life-threatening condition, the symptoms can be debilitating, as described by Ms Munchetty.

Symptoms of adenomyosis

It’s possible to have adenomyosis and have no symptoms. However, symptoms people may experience include:

  • Heavy or even constant periods

  • Severe period pain

  • Feelings of pressure in the abdomen

  • Bloating

Diagnosing adenomyosis and treatment

An estimated one in 10 women is believed to have adenomyosis but the underdiagnosed condition can often lie undetected by doctors for years.

If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, the first step is to seek advice from your GP.

They will likely carry out a pelvic examination, looking at the vulva, vagina, and cervix to establish the cause of the symptoms.

Following this examination, you might be referred to a specialist to carry out more tests, such as an ultrasound or an MRI.

Depending on the symptoms and precise nature of the condition, there are different options to treat adenomyosis:

  • 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)

  • Hysterectomy, or removal of the womb, in extreme cases

It’s also worth noting that adenomyosis has been known to affect the mental health of those living with the condition as well, due to the difficulties of getting a diagnosis and effective treatment.

Ms Munchetty shared that she takes daily heavy pain medication to manage the discomfort and avoids wearing light-coloured clothing for fear of blood leaking through, due to the heavy nature of her periods.