Understanding Fibroids

What are Fibroids?

(Also known as, Leiomyomas or Myomas)

Uterine Fibroids are benign tumors that originate in the muscle part of the uterus called the myometrium. They are the most common solid benign growth within the reproductive tract. Fibroids are caused by a few things. Genetic changes, hormones and other growth factors. Fibroids can also vary in size from seedily undetectable by human eyes to large masses distorting the uterus and often, abdominal organs.. Many women may have fibroids during some part of their lives and not know that she has them.

Symptoms of Fibroids

  • Heavy menstrual cycles
  • Menstrual cycles lasting longer than a week
  • Pelvic pressure of pain
  • Frequent urination
  • Difficulty emptying the bladder or bowel
  • Constipation
  • Backache or leg pains

Types of Fibroids

Intramural Fibroids
Tumors typically develop within the uterine wall and expand out from there. These are the most common fibroids.

Submucosal Fibroids (Least common)
These typically develop just under the lining of the uterine cavity that can cause heavy bleeding. With size increase, they can block the fallopian tubes, interference with implantation of a baby causing complications with fertility.

Cervical Fibroids
Fibroids seldom develop in the cervix but when they do, they are located at the lower part of the uterus.

 


Subserosal Fibroid
Typically develop on the outer uterine wall. This type can grow outward, increasing in size.

Pedunculated Fibroids
These occur when a fibroid tumor grows on a stalk, causing pedunculated submucosal or Subserosol Fibroids. They can grow into the uterus and on the outside of the uterine wall.

Fundal Fibroid
Known for blocking fallopian tubes, becoming a primary source of infertility by preventing conception. 

Fibroid Pain

Depending on the location and size of the fibroid will determine the type of pain experienced. Sometimes fibroids become painful because they have outgrown their blood supply and begin to degenerate, causing abdominal pain.

Since Pedunculated Fibroids are typically located on stalks that can twist, this can cause pain due to the lack of blood supply.

With fibroids located on the outer wall, such as Subserosal Fibroids, they can press on the bladder, rectum or spine that results in abdominal pressure and backaches.

Inner wall fibroids such as, Intramural Fibroids, can alter the shape of the uterus and cause pressure and pain.

Tips for temporarily relieving uterine Fibroid pain

Depending on the woman, fibroid pain measures from mild and manageable to unlivable.

  • Taking ibuprofen or another (NSAID) medication
  • Hormone Therapy
  • Heating Pad
  • Acupuncture/Other complimentary or Alternative Medicine

Fibroid Treatment Options

Medication

  • Birth control and other hormonal birth control methods are often used to control heavy bleeding and painful menstrual cycles.
  • Gonadotropin- releasing hormone agonists stop menstrual cycles and can shrink fibroid.
  • Progestin-releasing IUD’s can reduce heavy and painful bleeding but does not treat the actual fibroid.

Surgical Procedures

  • Hysteroscopy: A procedure that allows doctors to look inside the uterus in order to diagnose and treat causes of abnormal bleeding. 
  • Myomectomy: An operation to remove fibroids while preserving the uterus and possibly removing the submucosol fibroid. Depending on the size, number and location of your fibroids, you may be eligible for an abdominal myomectomy, a laparoscopic myomectomy, or a hysteroscopic myomectomy.
  • Endometrial Ablation: This procedure includes destroying the endometrium or uterine lining to reduce or completely stop menstrual bleeding.
  • Uterine Artery Embolization: This procedure is done by a radiologist and it blocks blood flow to the fibroids.

Fibroids and Menopause

Since fibroids need estrogen to grow, after a woman has reached menopause, the decreased level of estrogen usually reduces the size of the fibroids, requiring further treatment.

Any unusual bleeding or increase in the size of the fibroid are not normal after menopause and it is highly suggested to contact your doctor immediately. 

Fibroids and Hysterectomy

Recap – A Hysterectomy may entail the removal of the uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes and/or ovaries.

Having a hysterectomy is a permanent solution for fibroids and can be your best option for treatment if other methods have not worked. Consult with one of our specialists to see your options.

Fibroids and Pregnancy

Fibroids are common can show no symptoms but can also be problematic.  There is no trend that fibroid pain is more known during pregnancy; every woman is different. If you do experience symptoms, the most common would be:

  • Interference with the growth of the baby
  • Malpresentation
  • Blocking passage of the birth canal

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