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Uterine disorders: Pathology review
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She has been trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant for the first time for the past 2 years.
Pelvic examination shows a normal sized uterus.
This has been occurring for the past 6 months and is accompanied with a feeling of “fullness” in the lower abdomen as well as fatigue.
On further history, she has never been pregnant.
Physical examination shows an enlarged uterus with multiple round masses.
Laboratory studies reveal iron deficiency anemia.
Based on the initial presentation, Carmen and Susanna both have some form of uterine disorder.
Let’s first review physiology real quick.
The endometrium has two layers, an inner functional layer made up mainly of glands and supporting connective tissue, called stroma, and an outer thin basal layer which regenerates the overlying functional layer after each menstrual cycle.
Uterine disorders are conditions that affect the uterus, the female reproductive organ that is responsible for gestating a fertilized egg. Common uterine disorders endometritis, asherman syndrome, endometrial hyperplasia, endometrial polyps, endometriosis, and leiomyomas.
Endometritis refers to the acute or chronic inflammation of the endometrium due to invasion by bacteria normally found in the lower genital tract. Asherman syndrome involves intrauterine adhesions following procedures like dilation and curettage and can result in amenorrhea, infertility, or recurrent pregnancy loss. Endometrial hyperplasia is the excessive growth of the endometrial glands, most commonly caused by long-standing increased exposure to estrogen without the counteracting effect of progesterone.
There is also endometrial cancer, which is a type of cancer that begins in the lining of the uterus, called the endometrium. There can also be endometrial polyps, which are benign growths of the endometrial glands and stroma that protrude into the uterine cavity. Next, there is endometriosis in which there is the presence of endometrial tissue outside the endometrial cavity, usually on the ovaries, causing pelvic pain and bleeding that gets worse during menstruation. Finally, there are leiomyomas or uterine fibroids, which are extremely common benign smooth muscle tumors that usually develop in premenopausal women, in response to estrogen. Leiomyomas can present with abnormal uterine bleeding, pain, iron deficiency anemia, or fertility issues.
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