Fibroids are non-cancerous growths in the uterus (womb). These have no relationship to fibrocystic disease of the breasts. When examined under a microscope, fibroids are made up of muscle that is swirled into the shape of a small ball. Other names for fibroids include:
- fibroid tumors,
- myomas, and
Types of Fibroids
Symptoms from Fibroids
There are a number of possible problems that can result from fibroids. If you have any of the symptoms listed below, you should contact your doctor since other, potentially more serious causes may be present.
- Abnormal uterine bleeding, either with heavy menstrual periods or with bleeding in between menstrual cycles – the bleeding itself may only be an annoyance, or it can result in enough blood loss to cause anemia (low iron levels in the blood). A major concern is to make sure the bleeding is not due to something else that could be more serious.
- Pain in the pelvis, lower abdomen or low back which is usually a dull pain but can also be sharp in nature – The pain may be constant, or it may occur with your menstrual cycle or during sex.
- Pressure on the bladder which may cause difficulty or frequency of urination and pressure on the rectum may make bowel movements painful or difficult.
- Miscarriages or obstructed labor – Fibroids usually do not prevent you from becoming pregnant unless the fibroids block both fallopian tubes (the passageway for the egg to move into the uterus after conception has occurred). But a fibroid does not provide a good place for growth of a new pregnancy just like a large rock is not good place for a corn stalk or tomato plant to grow. Once you become pregnant, a large fibroid tumor could block the birth canal making it necessary to be delivered by C-section. But many women go to full term and have a normal vaginal delivery even with large fibroid tumors.
Should I Worry If I Have Fibroids?
Treatment of Fibroids
How are fibroids treated? Fibroids that are not large and/or are not growing rapidly and that cause no symptoms require no treatment. After the menopause, the fibroids frequently become smaller. If the fibroids cause symptoms or if they are growing rapidly, several options are available for treatment. The ultimate decision lies with you and your doctor.
- Medication (called GnRH analogues) have been shown to shrink many fibroids by approximately 1/3 their size. This may also help diminish pain, pressure, or bleeding associated with the fibroids. Several problems exist with this treatment. The medications are expensive, the fibroids usually return to their pretreatment size when the medicine is stopped (usually after 3-6 months), and the medications can have side effects. Medication is sometimes recommended if myomectomy is chosen (see below) or if you are near the menopause.
- Uterine artery embolization (UAE) has been performed in recent years to treat fibroids. A radiologist carefully directs a small plastic tube to the blood supply that feeds the fibroids and injects an inert substance to block the blood supply to the fibroids. UAE may be used to try to buy time until the fibroids shrink on their own. In certain cases, UAE may prevent the need for surgery. Certain risks and complications may occur. You should discuss the possibility of UAE in detail with your physician.
- Conservative surgery or myomectomy can be done to remove just the tumors. Depending on the size, number and location of the fibroids, they may be removed at hysteroscopy or laparoscopy, or a major abdominal incision may be necessary to remove the fibroids. A major concern with this approach is the fibroids may return. If you want to retain fertility potential, myomectomy is the procedure of choice.
- Hysterectomy or removal of the uterus assures all fibroids within the uterus are removed. Again depending on the circumstances, the surgery may be completed with laparoscopic assistance, vaginally or with an abdominal incision.. Abnormal bleeding, pelvic pain and pressure, difficulty urinating or having a bowel movement, or difficulty carrying a pregnancy may be caused by a number of problems. You should consult your doctor in order to determine the cause of your problem and discuss the best treatment for your situation – whether you have fibroids or not.
The information provided by Advanced Healthcare for Women and E. Daniel Biggerstaff, III, M.D. is for informational purposes only. As each woman is unique, do not rely on this information for diagnosis and treatment. We cannot guarantee the accuracy of the content and advise that you see a qualified Health Care Professional for inAdvanced Healthcare for Women 5354 Reynolds Street, Suite 518 Candler Professional Building Savannah, Georgia 31405 Telephone 912-355-7717 Fax 912-355-0979 firstname.lastname@example.org
dividual needs and care.