What are Uterine Fibroids?
Fibroids are benign muscular tumors that can grow on the inside, outside, or within the wall of the uterus. They are different from uterine polyps and endometriosis because these conditions result in abnormal growth of endometrium tissue.
Dr. Quanita Crable provides expert testing, diagnosis and treatment for women with fibroids at her gynecology office in Dallas, TX. Learn about the common symptoms of fibroids the treatment options best for you and call (469) 364-3764 to schedule your consultation with Dr. Crable today.
Common Symptoms of Fibroids
The majority of women 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
What Treatment Options does Dr. Crable Provide?
If you have mild symptoms, medication 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.
Should I Remove a Fibroid?
The best candidates for fibroid removal are women who have symptomatic fibroids that are causing heavy periods and/or pain from the size of the fibroid. It is also an alternative to a hysterectomy for women who do not want to undergo surgery to remove their uterus.
Will my Fibroid Symptoms go Away After Removal?
The success rate can be as high as 90%, so most women will see a quick improvement in the symptoms caused by fibroids. If the artery feeding the fibroid is not completely blocked, it could grow back, but this is rare. Most women do not need to pursue other treatments for fibroids.
Medications to Treat Uterine
Learn About the Medications Used to Treat Fibroids
Medications used to treat uterine fibroids will not eliminate the fibroids, but they may be able to reduce the symptoms and size of the fibroid. These medications are usually hormone based, as they work to regulate your menstrual cycle. If you have uterine fibroids medications may be an effective treatment solution. Learn more about the medications used to treat fibroids and call Dr. Quanita Crable to schedule your appointment today.
Common Medications Used to Treat Uterine Fibroids
Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone (Gn-RH) Agonists
As a woman experiences menopause, her uterine fibroids often shrink naturally due to a reduction in reproductive hormones. These medications work in a similar way by putting the patient in a temporary postmenopausal state to reduce the level of hormones that feed the fibroid and encourage its growth .
Progestin-Releasing Intrauterine Device (IUD)
This specific type of IUD can help to alleviate symptoms associated with uterine fibroids such as heavy menstrual bleeding. The IUD will not eliminate or even shrink the uterine fibroids present, but it does provide significant relief from painful symptoms.
This type of medication is similar to the IUD in the sense that it will not get rid of the fibroid or reduce its size, but it will ease the patient’s heavy menstrual cycle. Tranexamic acid is a non-hormonal medication that is only to be taken on heavy bleeding days.
Some patients are able to manage the painful symptoms associated with uterine fibroids with over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or naproxen sodium.
Vitamins and iron supplements may also be necessary if the patient’s heavy flow is causing them to lose too much blood since this sort of significant blood loss can cause anemia.
Side effects of these various types of medications are similar to the side effects of menopause, such as:
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Weight gain
- Vaginal dryness
- Changes in metabolism
- Mood swings
A Temporary Fix
Medication used to treat uterine fibroids are only a temporary solution. Once the patient ceases the use of these medications, their fibroids are likely to grow back to, and even beyond, their original size.
These medications are best used in combination with another, more absolute form of treatment such as a surgical procedure known as Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE).
FAQs about Treating Uterine Fibroids
What Are Uterine Fibroids?
A fibroid is a benign mass of cells that exist within the tissues of the uterus. These lumps are not cancerous, though they can cause significant symptoms such as heavy menstrual bleeding, chronic pain, and more.
Fibroids are an extremely common female condition, and are said to affect up to 80% of all women by age 50, though not every individual will present symptoms of fibroids. Many women that do experience difficulties with fibroids will begin to notice symptoms as their benign tumors gradually grow larger over time. This growth is likely to continue, along with worsening symptoms, if the woman’s fibroids remain untreated.
What Causes Fibroids?
Unfortunately, there is no one particular cause to fibroids. Medical professionals and researchers speculate that the development of uterine fibroids is related to hormonal imbalances as well as the patient’s genetic history, meaning that individuals have little to no control over their risk for encountering this condition.
Who Is at Risk for Getting Fibroids?
In addition to having irregular hormone levels and a family history of fibroids, other factors that can influence a woman’s risk of developing fibroids are:
- Her age: Fibroids are most commonly diagnosed between age 30 and 40.
- Her weight: Obese individuals are more likely to suffer from fibroids. The more weight a woman carries, the greater her risk.
- Her ethnicity: African-American women encounter problems with uterine fibroids more than any other ethnic group.
- Her diet: More recent studies have shown that a high intake of red meat can negatively impact a woman’s likelihood to develop fibroid. In contrast, eating more leafy greens and fruit can have a positive effect on this particular risk factor.
What Are the Symptoms of Fibroids?
As mentioned, fibroids typically cause excessive bleeding along with recurring pelvic pain. This pain is often misdiagnosed by patients as regular cramping during their menstrual cycle, but is most often the result of the positioning or increasing size of their uterine fibroids.
In addition to heavy bleeding and pain, fibroids can also cause:
- Bloating of the lower abdomen
- Frequent and sudden need to urinate
- Pain during intercourse
- Problems with fertility
- Low back pain
- Complications during pregnancy
What Are the Different Types of Fibroids?
Uterine fibroids can appear in various areas of the uterus, leading to different categorization based on the location of the patient’s tissue mass. There are 4 distinct types of fibroids, which include:
- Pedunculated fibroids: A fibroid that develops a supportive stem that forms at the base of the tumor.
- Subserosal fibroids: A type of uterine fibroid that grows along the outside of the uterus.
- Intramural fibroids: The most common kind of uterine fibroid, which appears within the uterine wall itself.
- Submucosal fibroids: Similar to the intramural fibroid type, these fibroids also develop within the uterine wall, though they more specifically exist within the submucosal layer of this muscular tissue.
How Does Dr. Crable Diagnose Fibroids?
Uterine fibroids are often diagnosed during a woman’s annual gynecological examination, which she should be completing every single year as recommended by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Depending upon the particular location of the patient’s fibroid, Dr. Crable may need to conduct an ultrasound or pelvic MRI in order to definitively confirm or deny a case of uterine fibroids.
How Are Fibroids Treated?
There are a variety of treatment methods available for women with uterine fibroids. Individuals who do not experience significant symptoms of fibroids are unlikely to ever require treatment, but those who frequently suffer from pain and discomfort from fibroids should consult with Dr. Crable about their options.