What are Uterine Fibroids?
If you’ve asked what fibroids are, our fibroid doctors at USA Fibroid Centers have the answer for you. Uterine fibroids are muscular tumors that grow in the wall of the uterus (womb). The shapes, sizes, and locations of uterine fibroids depend on the woman, though most fibroids are round in form and located on or in the uterus. What are fibroids? They are also known as leiomyomas or myomas, but uterine fibroids are their most common name. These tumors tend to be the most prevalent growth in a woman’s pelvic region. ¹
What are the Different Types of Uterine Fibroids?
Understanding the different types of uterine fibroids and what kind you have will allow your doctor to create the most effective treatment plan.
Intramural Fibroids develop within the uterine muscle walls. Heavy periods, unpredictable bleeding, and pelvic or lower back pain are common uterine fibroid symptoms.
Subserosal Fibroids: This type grows outside the uterus and bulges into the pelvic or abdominal cavity. Uterine fibroid symptoms usually affect the adjacent organs, such as the bladder and bowels.
Submucosal Fibroids: These appear in the endometrium, the inner lining of the uterus. It can result in excessive monthly bleeding, anemia, pelvic and back pain, and substantial menstrual clots.
Pedunculated Fibroids: A peduncle, or stalk, connects this kind to the uterine wall. It can grow inside or outside of the uterus. Uterine fibroid symptoms can depend on their location.
Calcified Fibroids: These can arise once a fibroid has exceeded its blood supply and has degenerated. Calcium deposits frequently form on top of the residual fibroid tissue. Uterine fibroid symptoms, such as frequent urination, constipation, and stomach pain or pressure, may occur.
WHAT DOES A FIBROID FEEL LIKE?
Pain is a general symptom of uterine fibroids. There are varying pain levels and pressures on the body that uterine fibroids can cause.
Uncomfortable pressure on the uterus and stomach is one of the many symptoms of uterine fibroids that a woman can feel; it can be painful, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be.
Uterine fibroids have more painful uterine fibroid symptoms that can bother a woman’s lifestyle. It’s why there are so many uterine fibroid treatments.
Symptoms of uterine fibroids can include pelvic pain, also described as a dull pressure in the pelvic region of one’s body5. It can often feel like cramps or pressure anywhere in that region, which makes it uncomfortable to perform everyday activities, such as sitting, walking, running, or even just lying down due to the symptoms of uterine fibroids. It’s very synonymous with period cramps.
LOWER BACK PAIN
If the uterine fibroids grow large enough, they can often put pressure against the uterus, putting pressure on the back and spine. There is also a possibility that the pressure can affect other organs as symptoms of uterine fibroids.
If the uterine fibroids are large enough, or you have many, the symptoms of uterine fibroids can place pressure or the feeling of fullness on the abdomen. As a symptom of uterine fibroids, abdominal pressure is considered relatively common; however, any sharp pains in the abdomen are a cause for concern and should be checked by a physician.
PAIN DURING INTERCOURSE
While it is possible to have pain during sex without uterine fibroids, having pain during intercourse is also a symptom of uterine fibroids. Therefore it’s important to speak to a doctor if this and other symptoms of uterine fibroids appear.
RECTAL AND BLADDER PRESSURE
Needing to use the bathroom frequently can also be a sign of discomfort and is caused by the uterus and uterine fibroids growing to the point in which they press against the bladder and rectum. Fibroids often cause frequent urination or feeling like you can never empty the bladder fully. These symptoms of uterine fibroids can also cause problems with bowel movements, like constipation or painful straining.
Are Uterine Fibroids Common?
According to the FDA, uterine fibroids are the most common benign tumor found in women of childbearing age.2 According to OWH, 20% to 80% of women can be affected by uterine fibroid symptoms and develop uterine fibroids by age 50. However, although fibroids can shrink in size by themselves after menopause,3 they can still cause pain and bleeding. Menopause should not stop people from looking into uterine fibroid treatments, such as the UFE procedure.
Which Size of Fibroids Are Dangerous?
Uterine fibroids can range from the size of a tiny seed, about one inch or 2 cm to the largest, over 7 inches, or 20 cm, weighing more than 20 pounds. A fibroid’s size matters because larger growths can create terrible symptoms and even require hospitalization. Although a fibroid can impact a woman’s health at any size, larger fibroids (those 8cm to 10 cm or the size of grapefruits) may be considered dangerous. Heavy bleeding is one of the significant indicators of fibroids and contributes not only to the number of women seeking emergency room care but hospital admissions.4
Large and medium-sized uterine fibroids can cause an increased abdominal area, frequent urination, trouble emptying the bladder, or constipation, and can impact neighboring organs. If large uterine fibroids (those larger than 10 cm or 4 inches) go untreated, they might grow even larger and rupture or degenerate. Large uterine fibroids can distort the structure of your uterus and harm adjacent organs such as your bladder and bowel. Large uterine fibroids can affect fertility in some situations.
Can Fibroids Become Cancerous?
Some may hear the word “tumor” and immediately think the condition is cancerous. But uterine fibroids are, for the most part, benign, which means uterine fibroids are noncancerous. The presence of uterine fibroids does not raise the likelihood of having a cancerous fibroid, nor does it not increase a woman’s chances of developing other types of uterine cancer.
However, there is a rare chance (less than one in 1,000) that a cancerous fibroid will appear; this is called leiomyosarcoma. It often makes people curious about uterine fibroid treatments, such as a UFE procedure (fibroid embolization).
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF UTERINE FIBROIDS?
The symptoms of uterine fibroids vary per person, and some women may not even feel any uterine fibroid symptoms at all, in which case – these sorts of uterine fibroids would not be a cause for concern. When these uterine fibroid symptoms show up and start affecting women’s daily lives, doctors and fibroid specialists should look for uterine fibroids.
In case you start experiencing uterine fibroid symptoms, the following is what you should be looking for:
- Heavy and prolonged menstruation between or during your periods
- Anemia, which can lead to fatigue
- Pain during intercourse
- Frequent urination
- Constipation and/or bloating
- Pain in your pelvis or lower back
- Increased menstrual cramping
- Stomach swelling
- Reproductive issues, possibly resulting in infertility
- Pregnancy complications, which may cause a more painful delivery or C-section
If you are unsure whether you have uterine fibroid symptoms, you can use our Symptom Quiz, which can help. It should not, however, take the place of visiting a professional when experiencing symptoms of uterine fibroids through uterine fibroid treatments, such as UFE procedures (fibroid embolization).
WHAT CAUSES FIBROIDS?
According to the government, through OASH, no one knows what causes uterine fibroids, though there are a few risk factors.
Hormones: Fibroids often appear when hormone levels are off, as they’re usually under hormonal control: estrogen and progesterone. Fibroids often grow during pregnancy, when hormone levels are higher than usual, and shrink when anti-hormone medication (birth control, for example, though it doesn’t always work) is used. They also have the potential to shrink or stop growing once a woman reaches menopause.
Genetics: If it runs in your family, you likely have the gene.
Because scientists don’t confidently know what causes uterine fibroids, we don’t know what causes them to shrink or grow. More research is to be done on the matter as we continue to learn and participate in studies. The good thing is, there are still numerous of uterine fibroid treatments, like UFE procedures (fibroid embolization).
UTERINE FIBROIDS RISK FACTORS
While these are not causes of uterine fibroids, the following risk factors can help determine whether a woman may have more of a predisposition for developing uterine fibroids.
- Age: As a woman ages, it’s more common for her to be diagnosed with uterine fibroids, especially from the age of 30 to menopause. As mentioned above, there is a possibility fibroids can shrink after menopause.
- Family History: If a family member of a woman has uterine fibroids, they are likely to have fibroids as well. In fact, if a woman’s mother had fibroids, she is three times more likely to get them herself.
- Ethnicity: African Americans are more likely to develop uterine fibroids than other ethnicities. African-American women also have fibroids developing at earlier ages, growing larger, and having far more severe uterine fibroid symptoms.5
- Obesity: Overweight women are more likely to have uterine fibroids. The risk is two to three times higher in obese women than in the general population.
- Lifestyle Factors: Birth control use, vitamin D deficiency, alcohol consumption, or consuming a diet high in saturated fat or inflammatory foods can all lead to the possibility of uterine fibroids.
It may be difficult to determine whether or not one has until the uterine fibroid symptoms appear. It’s one of the reasons women should be mindful of their bodies and see a physician when something abnormal occurs.
UTERINE FIBROIDS TREATMENT
If you suspect you have uterine fibroids, you may be wondering what steps to take next. The first step is to obtain a proper medical diagnosis. This is critical since many other illnesses exhibit uterine fibroid symptoms similar to fibroids. Some of these are potentially fatal.
Doctors employ a variety of approaches to detect fibroid tumors, including intramural fibroids, subserosal fibroids, calcified fibroids, and others.
Pelvic exam: Doctors can often detect an enlarged or deformed uterus, which may indicate the existence of uterine fibroids during a routine examination.
Ultrasound: If fibroids are suspected, this is frequently the first – and occasionally the only – imaging test requested.
MRI: This thorough imaging test allows the physician to see fibroids’ size, number, and location when more information is needed.
Hysterosonography: This procedure, or saline infusion ultrasonography, can dilate and provide a better look at the uterine cavity.
Hysteroscopy: This surgical method is used less frequently to see directly into the uterine cavity.
UTERINE FIBROID TREATMENT
Finding the best uterine fibroid treatments for uterine fibroids may be surprisingly simple. UFE procedure, or fibroid embolization) avoids the risks of major surgery and its lengthy recovery.
It is recommended to consult with a fibroid specialist to discuss uterine fibroid symptoms and understand the entire range of uterine fibroids treatment options, such as the UFE procedure (fibroid embolization).
There are multiple options for uterine fibroid treatments, some more invasive than others.
- Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE): An outpatient procedure, UFE procedures (fibroid embolization) uses embolic materials that travel through a small catheter implanted in the wrist or groin to obstruct blood flow and cause the fibroid to shrink and die. Fertility is not affected.
- Ablation: Heat is used to eliminate the fibroids in this technique. Ablation may not be an option for women who wish to conceive.
- Acessa: This procedure applies direct heat from the Acessa device to destroy the fibroid. 6
- Hysterectomy: The uterus and sometimes the ovaries are completely removed, avoiding future fibroids and the ability to conceive a pregnancy.
- Myomectomy: Removes fibroids using abdominal incisions or a scope introduced into the cervix. More than half of women cannot get pregnant after a myomectomy.7
USA FIBROID CENTERS ARE HERE TO HELP
Our main goal at USA Fibroids Centers is to help you get back to living life to the fullest without symptoms of uterine fibroids through uterine fibroid treatments, such as UFE procedures (fibroid embolization). Schedule an appointment with a fibroid expert at USA Fibroid Centers today to learn more about uterine fibroid treatments without surgery. For your convenience, we also provide the option of telemedicine appointments or in-person visits at dozens of clinic locations across the country.
USA Fibroid Centers offers UFE (fibroid embolization) in all our clinics. This procedure has the benefits of outpatient uterine fibroid treatments, allowing you to go home the same day. It preserves fertility and allows you to carry a baby. UFE has less risk for infection and other complications, no general anesthesia, and a short recovery time of one to two weeks.
We are committed to offering excellent UFE procedures (fibroid embolization) options for symptoms of uterine fibroids. Most insurance programs cover our least intrusive procedure, the UFE procedure (fibroid embolization). If you believe you have uterine fibroids, please call us at 855.615.2555 to discuss your uterine fibroid treatment options.
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