Uterine Fibroid Q & A
What are Uterine Fibroids?
Uterine Fibroids are benign (non-cancerous) growths of tissue in the uterus that typically occur during a woman’s childbearing years. They can be very tiny to very large, individual, or multiple, and can often exist with no symptoms. However, when symptoms do occur, they can be highly uncomfortable and can even affect fertility.
More than 200,000 cases of uterine fibroids are diagnosed each year in the US. Although the causes are not yet fully understood, the effects can be excruciating. Open surgery, such as hysterectomy or myomectomy, which typically requires several days in the hospital and weeks of recovery, was once the only treatment option available for patients suffering from fibroids. However, now women have the opportunity to choose a minimally invasive, office-based procedure with a much quicker recovery time.
What causes Uterine Fibroids?
While the exact cause is unknown, it is widely thought that uterine fibroids could be caused by genetic changes, hormones, and other growth factors.
What are the risk factors for Uterine Fibroids?
- Race – African American women are three times more likely to develop uterine fibroids and usually develop them at a younger age.
- Heredity – If your mother or sister had fibroids, you are more likely to develop them.
- Early-onset of menstruation
- Diet rich in red meat and low in fresh fruits and vegetables
What are common symptoms of Uterine Fibroids?
Symptoms can vary from woman to woman but may include:
- Pelvic pain
- Back pain
- Heavy, prolonged menstrual periods
- Spotting in between periods
- Difficulty emptying your bladder
How can I find out if I have Uterine Fibroids?
Your doctor may order ultrasound imaging to confirm that you have uterine fibroids but may also discover them during a routine pelvic exam. To accurately assess the size and location of the fibroids, advanced imaging, such as an MRI, will be ordered by your physician. The MRI results will allow your doctor to develop the best treatment plan for you.
How are Uterine Fibroids treated?
Treatments are customized to every patient and may include monitoring, imaging, and medication. As the disease advances, options to remove the fibroids are often suggested. Although open surgery was once the only treatment available, women can now choose to be treated in the office setting on an outpatient basis, go home the same day, and return to regular activity in a few days. This procedure is called an Embolization. During this procedure, the physician accesses the uterine artery through a small catheter inserted in the patient’s wrist or groin. The physician then uses small coils to block the blood flow to the fibroid(s). The fibroids shrink as they are deprived of blood supply and are eventually reabsorbed by the body. With the assistance of image guidance, this procedure only takes a couple of hours to complete. Patients go home the same day and are back to their normal routine in a few days.
This treatment option is preferable to many patients as it is minimally invasive, so there is no unsightly scar and no lengthy recovery from an abdominal incision. It allows the woman to keep her uterus, reduces discomfort and downtime, and is performed safely and comfortably by a dedicated team. If you have been diagnosed with fibroids, you should learn about all the treatment options available.
Call us today at (469) 436-3650 or click to schedule an appointment to discuss this procedure and your care.