What Is Vaginal Adenosis?

December 11, 2018
Vaginal adenosis should be treated in a timely manner, even when it's a benign condition, as this can prevent long-term discomfort.

The incidence of vaginal adenosis is 0.3 per 100,000 women. In such cases, patients have a glandular tissue that covers the mucous membranes in the area of the vagina. This tissue is called epithelium and has a cylindrical shape in the vagina.

To understand why the existence of an epithelium in the mucous membranes of the vagina is a condition, we must remember certain details. First, keep in mind that the vagina is a unique muscle-membranous organ; it has a cylindrical shape and measures about 9 centimeters (3.5 inches) in length.

The vagina is located between the rectum and the urinary bladder and extends from the uterus to the vulva. Its walls are formed by various layers, which vary depending on the woman’s hormonal status and have tremendous elasticity.

The internal part of the vagina is composed of rough mucous membranes that look like characteristic transverse wrinkles.

In this sense, the epithelium or tissue that forms in the walls of the vagina are usually superficial or deep and extend even to the vulva when not treated in time. Vaginal adenosis is benign but can evolve into a type of carcinoma if not treated in time.

Vaginal Adenosis

Types of vaginal adenosis

There are two types of this pathology, which may appear naturally or could be caused by a hormonal treatment.

  • Spontaneous or natural: This type usually occurs infrequently in adult women who take certain oral contraceptives. According to research, Diethylstilbestrol, used specifically between 1940 and 1978 to counteract the risk of miscarriage in pregnant women, was a cause of vaginal adenosis.
  • Induced or provoked. In these cases, attention should be paid to the relationship with clear cell adenocarcinoma. According to the evidence, this type of vaginal adenosis can occur in women who have contracted some type of Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and have to undergo surgical procedures to eliminate the warts that form due to the virus.

Some symptoms of vaginal adenosis

1. Pain in the vagina

It presents as a discomfort very similar to the belly cramps that occur just before a menstrual period, with a lot of pressure on the walls of the vagina. This is, without a doubt, the most annoying symptom in the patient’s daily life.

2. Mucorrhea

This is the production of an abundant amount of mucus or vaginal discharge. This mucus has a gelatinous consistency and is light in color.

Although it isn’t smelly, it’s very uncomfortable. It can be confused with the vaginal discharge produced in cases of candidiasis.

3. Pain during intercourse

When a woman with vaginal adenosis has sex, intercourse can be extremely painful. It’s necessary to avoid forcing sexual contact while this condition exists. It should be noted that it isn’t a contagious disease.

4. Bleeding between periods

The presence of blood in between periods isn’t normal, so it indicates that something isn’t right.

Vaginal Adenosis

Treatment of vaginal adenosis

The use of 50% trichloroacetic acid is usually recommended. This type of treatment is less painful than freezing or surgical intervention, but it cannot be applied to internal or deep vaginal injuries.

Another treatment that is usually used is excision with a diathermic loop. In this procedure, a very thin wire, shaped like a handle, is connected to high frequency electricity. This instrument allows the affected area of the vagina to be removed with great precision.

This is one of the less painful procedures that allows the abnormal epithelium to be removed so that it can be examined by a specialist.

You can also resort to tissue removal with a carbon dioxide laser. It’s used because it works at a wavelength that is very well absorbed by water and, therefore, by living tissues.

Vaginal adenosis should be treated in a timely manner, even when it’s a benign condition, as this can prevent long-term discomfort.

Regarding prevention, it’s important not to neglect your check-ups with the gynecologist and to talk with your doctor about the best oral contraceptives for you, in case you need to take them.