Frequently Asked Questions about Fibroids
Fibroids are muscular tumors that are usually benign and grow inside the uterus, within the wall of the uterus, or outside of the uterus. They are different from uterine polyps and endometriosis because these conditions result in abnormal growth of endometrium tissue.
The majority have developed fibroids by the time they reach age 50, but not all women have symptoms. The most common symptoms are:
- Heavy bleeding during your period
- Feeling of fullness or noticeable enlargement of the pelvic area
- Frequent urination or incontinence
- Weight gain, especially in the abdomen
If you’re experiencing one of more of these symptoms of uterine fibroids, you may be wondering how you can be diagnosed with fibroids. Fibroids are sometimes found during a routine pelvic exam with your gynecologist. If you and your doctor suspect you have fibroids, ultrasonography, hysteroscopy, hysterosalpingography, sonohysterography, or laparoscopy are tests that can be done to determine if there are uterine fibroids. These tests may also be done to track the growth of uterine fibroids over time. The number, size, and symptoms of uterine fibroids found will determine the treatment option that is recommended.
Many women want to know the cause of uterine fibroids and if they can be avoided. Unfortunately, doctors and researchers don’t know the cause of uterine fibroids. There are factors that can put you at an increased risk for developing fibroids, but there are not many actions that can be taken to change your risk factor. Hormone levels is one factor that can stimulate the growth of fibroids, and is a reason they tend to shrink after menopause. African American women tend to have fibroids more often, and larger in size, than other racial groups, especially if their mother or sister had fibroids. A healthy lifetsyle, including maintaining a healthy weight and eating a healthy, balanced diet, can reduce the chance of fibroids and the symptoms caused by them.
If you have mild symptoms, medication for pain and to control the symptoms may be recommended first. For more significant symptoms, if the fibroid grows, or if medication does not help, you may need surgery:
- Endometrial ablation: removing the lining of the uterus to control heavy bleeding.
- Myomectomy: surgery to remove fibroids, but leaving the uterus in place.
- Hysterectomy: surgery to remove the uterus.
- Uterine Fibroid Embolization: a minimally invasive procedure to block the blood supply to the fibroid, which causes it to shrink.
The best candidates for Uterine Fibroid Embolization are women who have symptomatic fibroids that are causing heavy periods and/or pain from the size of the fibroid. During UFE, the blood flow to the fibroids is blocked, so the fibroid tumor is not surgically removed. Instead, the fibroid will shrink and symptoms will improve after the procedure. It is also an alternative to a hysterectomy or myomectomy for women who do not want to undergo surgery to remove their uterus or surgically remove the fibroids.
Dr. Handley at North Texas Fibroids specializes in only non-surgical treatments for uterine fibroids. He has years of interventional radiology experience and successful results from uterine fibroid embolization procedures. UFE is an option that many OBGYNs do not offer to their patients and they typically do not perform the procedure. This treatment can also help to relieve symptoms of other uterine conditions, including adenomyosis.
To learn about UFE, a non-surgical alternative, schedule an appointment with a specialist at North Texas Fibroids today.
UFE is an outpatient procedure, so you’ll be able to go home the same day. The first week after the procedure, you’ll want to take it easy. Most women are able to return to normal activities in 8-14 days. Most women notice an improvement in their symptoms within 3-6 months.*
*Individual results may vary.