Uterine fibroids are round muscle growths that develop within or around a woman’s uterus, also known as the womb. They are almost always benign, meaning they are not cancerous and usually don’t require medical treatment. Fibroids can grow as single tumors or in clusters. The severity of fibroid symptoms will depend on their size, number, and location.
While the exact causes of uterine fibroids are mostly unknown, there are a few factors that have been found to influence their growth. These include genetic changes, growth factors, hormones, and extracellular matrix (ECM). While these causes often can’t be avoided, they can be treated by scheduling a consultation at American Fibroid Centers at the earliest sign of symptoms.
Over time, uterine fibroids may grow larger. The uterus expands to make more room for the fibroids increasing in size, which may make the abdomen appear fuller. A fuller appearance can also make a woman look pregnant even though she is not. With an enlarged uterus, women may experience:
- Weight gain
- Swelling of the abdomen
- A change in how their clothes fit
Uterine fibroids are almost always noncancerous (benign) and rarely turn into cancer. Having fibroids also does not increase one’s risk of developing cancerous tumors or cancer in the uterus. Undergoing a thorough pelvic exam and other diagnostic testing are ideal ways to monitor uterine fibroids and your overall health.
Fibroids are the most common type of tumor in the female reproductive tract. It’s estimated that 20-50% of all women have these benign growths. Fibroids most often affect women in their 30s and 40s. Also, Hispanic women and those of African-American descent are three times more likely to develop fibroids.
Most uterine fibroids are asymptomatic. However, in some cases, they can be extremely painful and debilitating. Some of the most common fibroid symptoms include heavy menstrual bleeding, severe cramps, pelvic pain or pressure, pain during sex, frequent urination, and excessive blood loss which can lead to anemia.
It’s important to understand the difference between abnormal bleeding and normal period flow. Indications of abnormal fibroid bleeding include:
- Bleeding outside of your normal menstrual cycle
- Notably heavier periods
- Using more feminine products than usual
- Menstruation lasting longer than 10 days
Pain caused by uterine fibroids can be experienced in a number of ways. This includes pain in the pelvic area, discomfort after sexual intercourse, difficulty urinating, and pain in the back or legs. In some severe cases, women liken the feeling to having their appendix burst. Other women have described it as an especially painful, unending period with intense cramping. Often, it leads to an inability to sleep at night, and the pain will only continue if left untreated.
These are great questions to ask your doctor:
- How many fibroids do I have?
- What kind of fibroids are they?
- How big are my fibroids?
- Will my fibroids grow?
- What can I expect in the long term with fibroids?
- How can I monitor my fibroids and pelvic health?
- Do I need treatment?
- What are my treatment options?
Certain medications can help shrink uterine fibroids, ease heavy menstrual bleeding, and alleviate pain. Some of the most common medications used to treat uterine fibroids include:
- Oral contraceptives
- Intrauterine devices (IUD)
- Anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- GnRH agonists (Lupron, Eligard, Zoladex, Trelstar)
- Selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs)
Uterine fibroids are often harmless and cause no symptoms. Treatment usually isn’t necessary unless fibroids cause excessive bleeding, discomfort, or bladder problems. If you have uterine fibroids, you should be evaluated periodically to monitor fibroid growth and uterus size. If your symptoms get worse, talk to your doctor about your treatment options. With effective treatment, most women can experience relief and improve their overall quality of life.
Uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) is a minimally invasive-image guided procedure that treats uterine fibroids. It’s an alternative to a hysterectomy or myomectomy, requiring no hospital stay or general anesthesia, and has a quicker recovery time. Around 85-90% of women experience significant improvement in their fibroid symptoms and a significant decrease in the size of their uterine fibroids after UFE.
During UFE, a thin catheter is inserted into the femoral artery in the groin or wrist. Tiny particles are injected into the small blood vessels that “feed” the fibroids. These particles block the blood flow, causing the fibroids to shrink and die.
There are numerous benefits to choosing uterine fibroid embolization over other treatment options.
- Less invasive than surgery
- No general anesthesia
- Fewer complications
- Preserves the uterus
- No scarring
- No hospital stay
- Quicker recovery times
Not all fibroids require treatment, but if medical intervention is deemed necessary, most insurance plans offer coverage. Our office will contact your provider to review your benefits and confirm if any coverage is available. We’ll do all we can to maximize your insurance plan.
Our Fibroid Specialists
Our board-certified, affiliated fibroid specialists in NY and NJ, are highly trained in the diagnosis and treatment of uterine fibroids. Their goal is to address fibroid pain and related symptoms through Uterine Fibroid Embolization, a minimally invasive-image guided procedure. When you choose to work with us, our team will ensure that you are comfortable and confident in the care you receive from start to finish.
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From the Experts
Get to know more about the symptoms, causes, treatment, and care of Uterine Fibroids.