Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous growths that can develop on the inner or outer walls of the uterus. They are common among women in their late 30s and early 40s, and while they usually do not cause significant problems, they can lead to various symptoms depending on their size and location. In some cases, fibroids may begin to break down, which can result in different signs and symptoms.

What Causes Fibroid Degeneration?

Fibroid breakdown, or degeneration, occurs when the fibroid outgrows its blood supply. This lack of blood flow leads to cell death within the fibroid, causing it to shrink and possibly break down. There are different types of degeneration that can occur within fibroids, including hyaline, cystic, and red degeneration.

Types of Fibroid Degeneration

Hyaline degeneration is the most common type of fibroid degeneration, occurring in around 60% of fibroids. During this type of degeneration, the fibroid tissue changes taking on a glassy appearance.

Calcification occurs when fibroid cells harden due to calcium deposits caused by a lack of oxygen and blood supply. This type of degeneration is more common in older women and may lead to a hardened, non-functioning fibroid.

Cystic degeneration occurs after menopause when cysts develop on a fibroid. They can be mistaken for ovarian cysts and have a watery, honeycomb-like configuration when seen under a microscope. 

Myxoid degeneration refers to a fibroid that’s filled with a jelly-like substance. The smooth tissue is replaced with a transparent connective tissue that has the appearance of being covered with a mucus-like lubricant.

Red degeneration is a more severe form of degeneration often seen during pregnancy. It usually occurs due to a ruptured blood vessel inside the fibroid or when the fibroid’s blood supply is restricted, leading to internal bleeding in the fibroid. 

Signs of Fibroids Breaking Down

When a fibroid begins to break down, it can cause a range of symptoms that may vary depending on the type and severity of the degeneration. Here are some signs to look out for:

Acute pain is one of the most common symptoms of fibroid breakdown. The pain is often sudden and severe, localized to the area where the fibroid is located in the abdomen.

Lasting or chronic pelvic pain is also a sign of your fibroids breaking down. The pain can persist even after the acute phase of fibroid degeneration has resolved and may cause discomfort during daily activities. 

While this symptom is common with fibroids in general, sudden changes in bleeding patterns, such as heavier or irregular bleeding, may be a sign of fibroid breakdown. Severe or abnormal bleeding between periods may also indicate fibroid degeneration. 

When fibroids degenerate, it can trigger an inflammatory response in the body, leading to a mild fever. This typically occurs during pregnancy. 

What to Do if You Experience These Symptoms

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention. At American Fibroid Centers, our team of fibroid specialists can perform a comprehensive examination and diagnostic imaging tests, such as an ultrasound, to identify the cause of your symptoms. Our affiliated specialists can provide an accurate diagnosis for uterine fibroids and fibroid degeneration and recommend treatment options that fit your specific needs.

Fibroid Treatment Options 

Treatment options for fibroid degeneration may include pain management, medications, or, in some cases, minimally invasive treatments to shrink the size of the fibroids. Lifestyle changes and medications can help treat uncomfortable and painful symptoms, but uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) is a minimally invasive treatment option for fibroids that is a safer alternative to surgery. 

UFE is a minimally invasive-image guided procedure performed by an interventional radiologist that has a success rate of approximately 85%. It is a safe and effective treatment for all types of fibroids, regardless of their size, number, and location, and significantly reduces fibroid symptoms. It offers a quicker recovery time, lowers the risk of complications, and keeps the uterus intact, unlike hysterectomies. 

Treat Fibroid Degeneration with American Fibroid Centers

While fibroids are generally benign, their breakdown can cause discomfort. Understanding the types of degeneration and the signs of uterine fibroid breakdown can help you seek appropriate care if you suspect you may be experiencing this condition. If you’re ready to get relief from fibroid degeneration symptoms, schedule an appointment with American Fibroid Centers. Our team of affiliated interventional radiologists will provide you with an accurate diagnosis and tailored treatment plan to help relieve your symptoms. Request an appointment with one of our fibroid specialists in New York and New Jersey today.

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