What are pelvic adhesions?

A pelvic adhesion is a growth of thick connective tissue that can develop around any organ near the pelvis or in the bony area between the hips. These growths are usually due to some sort of trauma to the bladder, uterus, fallopian tubes, or ovaries. Severe pelvic adhesions can cause pregnancy problems such as infertility or ectopic pregnancy, a serious condition in which a fertilized egg develops outside the uterus.

The most common cause of pelvic adhesions is pelvic surgery, such as a cesarean section or removal of uterine fibroids. The body may develop thick connective tissue at surgical sites in the pelvis after a procedure as a means of protecting and healing the area from further trauma. Other possible causes of adhesions include pelvic bacterial infections, sexually transmitted diseases, pelvic inflammatory disease, or gynecologic cancer.

A woman may have no noticeable symptoms of small pelvic adhesions. If the condition is more severe, it can cause pelvic pain, which can get worse during intercourse. An adherence can also cause loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting. Itching or redness near the vagina and labia can occur if the adhesions are the result of a bacterial infection. Women with the condition may also experience emotional symptoms, such as anxiety or depression, due to pain, infertility, or constant difficulty having sex.

More minor cases of pelvic adhesions can heal on their own and do not require treatment. Surgery is usually done if adhesions are widespread or cause pain or other severe symptoms. During the procedure, a surgeon may remove excess connective tissue that surrounds any organ within the pelvis. Surgical removal is usually done only if the growths are causing symptoms, because repeated or unnecessary surgery can lead to even more adhesions. Even if adhesions disappear on their own or surgical removal is successful, they can still grow back and may require regular monitoring and repeated treatment.

Although the condition cannot be completely prevented, doctors can take certain precautions to limit its growth. Due to the high risk of thick connective tissue forming over surgical incision areas in the pelvic region, doctors often recommend surgery as a last-resort treatment option. If surgery is absolutely necessary to treat a condition, doctors may also look for non-invasive methods that don't require cutting, such as using lasers or freezing to remove cysts or abnormal cells.

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