If you are one of the 80 to 90 percent of women who will develop fibroids before age 50, we want you to know that there are treatment options that can not only help you find relief from painful symptoms but preserve your uterus.
Before you can decide on a treatment for uterine fibroids, however, you need to know about the different types of fibroids. It’s helpful to know these details so that you can make the most informed decision about fibroid treatment.
What Is a Calcified Fibroid?
Uterine fibroids are benign tumors that develop inside or on the uterus. Like all other parts of your body, fibroids rely on oxygenated blood to survive and grow. They receive their blood supply from blood vessels connected to the uterine artery. Some fibroids can outgrow their blood supply. When this happens, the cells in the fibroid begin to degenerate, or die, in order to bring the fibroid back to a sustainable size.
During this degeneration process, calcium deposits build up on top of the remaining fibroid tissue — we call fibroids “calcified” after this process is complete.
Causes of Fibroid Calcification
Fibroid calcification occurs as the growth ages and deteriorates. The edges may harden or become calcified, or the entire fibroid calcifies. Age may factor into whether a fibroid calcifies. As a woman gets older, she usually produces less estrogen, which may cause the fibroids to degenerate. Calcified fibroids may be found in women who are nearing or past menopause due to hormone changes. Calcification occurs at the end of the life cycle for the fibroid.
Degeneration of Fibroids
Fibroids begin to degenerate when they have outgrown their blood supply and start to die. When it degenerates, you may experience some symptoms, including abdominal swelling, pain, and fever.
Pedunculated fibroids are growths on a stalk that is attached to the uterus. If the stalk becomes twisted, which cuts off the blood supply, the fibroid may begin to degenerate. The pain may be even more intense and longer lasting than with other degenerating fibroids.
Fibroids may also degenerate during pregnancy. Sometimes, they will grow because of the increase in estrogen. They will begin to degenerate if they grow large enough to outgrow the blood supply. As the baby grows, it can also distort blood vessels, which cuts off the supply to the fibroid, causing degeneration.
Many times, a fibroid will degenerate until it is sustainable by the blood supply. It may start growing again until the cycle starts over and degeneration is necessary.
Who’s at Risk?
Calcified fibroids are most commonly seen in women after menopause. Calcification often occurs after menopause since the change in hormones can influence fibroid growth and degeneration. However, fibroids can become calcified during childbearing years as well. When this happens, you might experience heavier periods and complications with pregnancy.
Calcified fibroids can also occur when a fibroid stops growing due to lack of adequate blood supply. This is usually the case if a fibroid becomes so large that it outgrows its blood supply. The fibroid must shrink until it is small enough for the blood supply to sustain it again.
Calcification in Uterus
Calcium deposits may form in the uterus along the wall, often forming a thin layer, which can become thicker and spread. Uterine calcification can occur for several reasons.
- IUDs that cause scarring
- Scarring from prior surgeries
Besides calcified fibroids, you can be diagnosed with endometrial calcifications or bony fragments in the uterus, known as endometrial osseous metaplasia. It is important to contact your doctor for an accurate diagnosis to determine the best treatment plan for your condition.
Symptoms of Calcified Fibroids
After calcification, fibroids can cause new symptoms, or make ones you’re already experiencing more severe. For example, a large calcified fibroid can put pressure on the bladder or bowel, causing symptoms like frequent urination or constipation. Calcified fibroids can make abdominal pain more intense, especially with peduncled fibroids when the stalk twists and shuts off the blood supply.
Everyone experiences fibroids differently. Some women may experience no symptoms of calcified fibroids, and some may experience fewer symptoms after calcification. We provide a symptom checker as a resource to help you determine if you’re experiencing symptoms of fibroid calcification or symptoms of fibroids in general. Checking your symptoms is quick and easy and is the first step towards finding freedom from fibroids.
Calcified Fibroid Treatment Plan
Treatment for calcified fibroids will depend on each individual case. A fibroid specialist can help you determine if minimally invasive treatment is right for you. Uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) is a non-surgical treatment that has been found to be effective at relieving fibroid symptoms. UFE treats the calcified fibroid by targeting the uterine artery feeding the fibroid. By blocking blood supply to the fibroids, this procedure shrinks the fibroids without negatively impacting your fertility or other organs.
A fibroid specialist will use ultrasound imaging to guide the tiny catheter into the artery that is feeding the fibroid. They will inject the artery with embolic materials that will block the artery from blood flow. Over time, the symptoms may dissipate as the fibroid dies.
If a peduncled fibroid becomes strangled, causing intense pain, immediate surgery may be necessary. Some doctors recommend a hysterectomy or myomectomy for calcified fibroids.
A hysterectomy removes the uterus, which prevents any future pregnancy. A myomectomy removes the fibroid without removing the uterus, but it can also carry risks of complications with pregnancy in the future. UFE preserves fertility by retaining the uterus and reducing or eliminating symptoms from fibroids.
Find Treatment and Support at USA Fibroid Centers
To choose the best treatment for your health and happiness, you need to get accurate information and a clear diagnosis of your fibroids. Before we recommend any treatment, we’ll meet with you one-on-one to answer your questions and discuss all your options. Our specialists will work hard to communicate openly and honestly with you to have the information you need to make the right decision.
Schedule a consultation today, or give us a call at 855.615.2555 to get the care you deserve.