Uterine fibroids — which are also referred to as uterine leiomyomas or myomas — are benign tumors that grow in or on the uterus. Fibroids vary in size and can grow in multiple parts of the uterus, including both inside and outside the uterine wall.
As the most common tumor of the female reproductive tract, fibroids affect more people than you might expect. In fact, approximately 33 percent of women develop them during their childbearing years and 70-80% of women will have developed them by the age of 50. Because fibroids are noncancerous, many people experience a few problematic symptoms, and some may not know they have fibroids at all.
Though fibroids aren’t inherently dangerous to your health, they can often cause debilitating symptoms depending on the location and size of the tumors. Everyone experiences the condition differently; therefore, paths to diagnosis and treatment vary.
How Are Fibroids Diagnosed?
Fibroids are most commonly found by a gynecologist during a routine pelvic exam. If you have reported symptoms such as heavy or prolonged periods, frequent urination, bleeding between menstruation cycles, etc., the doctor may want to perform an ultrasound to get to the root of the issue. Another common diagnosis is when the doctor notices something different about the shape of your uterus, they might recommend further tests to determine whether uterine fibroids could be the cause.
The most common method of diagnosing fibroids requires an ultrasound. If your doctor orders this test, they’ll use an ultrasound device to confirm the diagnosis and locate and measure the fibroids. If an ultrasound doesn’t provide enough clarity to confirm a diagnosis, your doctor may recommend other measures, such as lab tests or an MRI.
Many women seek out the diagnosis of a fibroid after experiencing symptoms that begin impeding on their personal or work life. If you think you might have fibroids, it’s a good idea to consult your primary physician and a doctor specializing in the treatment of uterine fibroids. These professionals can help you confirm the diagnosis and consider your next steps.
What Fibroid Treatments Exist?
After you receive a diagnosis, you’ll likely start to consider treatment options. If you experience no symptoms, you may opt to skip treatment and instead monitor the fibroids in case symptoms do occur. On the other hand, if you experience severe symptoms of fibroids, treatment could significantly improve your quality of life; therefore, it is even more important to know what options are available.
There are many different kinds of treatment, thus it can often be difficult to determine which is the right one for you. Many women are given few options after their diagnosis, making them feel isolated and scared. Many of our patients have come to us concerned that their only option was to have a hysterectomy. According to the Society of Interventional Radiology’s recent study on fibroid treatment awareness, 20% of women think an invasive procedure is the only solution for fibroid treatment; however, that is not the case.
Many women are relieved to hear that they actually have many options when it comes to relieving their fibroid symptoms. Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE), for example, is an FDA-approved treatment that shrinks fibroids using a non-surgical, outpatient procedure.
Ready to Seek Treatment for Uterine Fibroids?
Getting diagnosed and treated for uterine fibroids can feel like a long road, especially if you’re experiencing symptoms that are affecting your relationships or causing you to miss work. At USA Fibroid Centers, we’ll stand by you every step of the way, from diagnosis to recovery.
We’re proud to offer our patients hope for a life without fibroid symptoms. Our staff and specialists will ensure that you have everything you need, including insurance coverage information, to make an informed treatment decision and take steps toward a healthier, happier life.
If you’re ready to seek treatment for uterine fibroids, reach out to us and schedule your consultation today.