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What are Pelvic Adhesions?

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  • Written By: Allison Boelcke
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 14 November 2016
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A pelvic adhesion is a growth of thick connective tissue that can develop around any organs near the pelvis, or the bone area between the hips. These growths are typically due to some type of trauma in the bladder, uterus, fallopian tubes, or ovaries. Serious pelvic adhesions can cause problems with pregnancy, including infertility or ectopic pregnancies, a serious condition in which a fertilized egg develops outside of the womb.

The most common cause of pelvic adhesions is pelvic surgery, such as a cesarean section or uterine fibroid removal. The body may develop thick connective tissue on the surgical sites of the pelvis after a procedure as a means to protect and heal the area from additional trauma. Other possible causes of the adhesions include pelvic bacterial infections, sexually transmitted diseases, pelvic inflammatory disease, or gynecological cancers.

A woman may have no noticeable symptoms for minor pelvic adhesions. If the condition is more serious, it can cause pain in the pelvis, which can worsen during sexual intercourse. An adhesion can also cause loss of appetite, nausea, and vomiting. Itching or redness near the vagina and labia may occur if the adhesions were the result of a bacterial infection. Women with the condition may also experience emotional symptoms, such as anxiety or depression, due to the pain, infertility, or constant difficulty in having sexual intercourse.

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More minor instances of pelvic adhesions may heal on their own and require no treatment. Surgery is generally performed if the adhesions are widespread or causing pain or other serious symptoms. During the procedure, a surgeon can remove the excess connective tissue surrounding any organs within the pelvis. Surgical removal is typically only performed if the growths are causing symptoms because repeated or unnecessary surgeries could possibly result in even more adhesions. Even if the adhesions go away on their own or the surgical removal is successful, they can still grow back and may require regular supervision and repeated treatment.

Although the condition cannot be completely prevented, doctors may take certain precautions to limit the growth. Due to the high risk of thick connective tissue forming over surgical incision areas inside the pelvic area, doctors will generally recommend surgery as a last resort treatment option. If surgery is absolutely necessary to treat a condition, doctors may also look for noninvasive methods that don’t require cutting, such as the use of lasers or freezing to remove cysts or abnormal cells.

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