How Do Uterine Fibroids Affect My Health?
When the weather is hot, and the air is thick, the mosquitoes come out to play—just about the time you decide to enjoy the outdoors. One mosquito is a pest, but soon the swarm grows and those annoying, buzzing little insects ruin your summer fun. Much like these pests, fibroids can invite the same annoyances.
When fibroids first develop, they are quite small, and symptoms typically are not present. They are a pest, like a lone mosquito, and quite common. In fact, by age 35, 30 percent of all women have fibroids and nearly 80 percent will have them by age 50. That being said, like that swarm of mosquitos, fibroids become a problem as they grow in size causing symptoms to become more prominent.
If you’ve asked yourself, “I have uterine fibroids. What does that mean for my health?” the answer depends greatly on your symptoms, their severity and whether you’re able to manage those symptoms.
Fibroids, 99 percent of the time, are benign tumors and usually harmless. However, you should know the symptoms and recognize the severity as uterine fibroids can cause unnecessary pain.
- Spotting between periods
- Heavy menstrual bleeding
- Frequent urination
- Pelvic pain
- Painful intercourse
- Long menstrual periods
- Infertility issues
In addition to managing and tracking symptoms, understanding the different types of fibroids can help you understand what you may be battling.
Types of Fibroids
When it comes to your uterine fibroid diagnosis and your health, it will help to know the four different fibroid types. Ask your physician for a more detailed diagnosis of your fibroids and how they may impact your life.
Intramural fibroids are the most common type of fibroid. These benign tumors grow between the muscles of the front, back or upper part of the uterus. Again, while fibroids are often harmless, intramural fibroids that grow larger than normal can cause your womb to stretch resulting in discomfort.
Subserosal fibroids form on the outside of the uterus and can cause the womb to look full or pregnant. Again, this growth on the outside of the uterus can cause discomfort or pain if it has grown quite large.
The least common type of fibroids, submucosal fibroids develop in the middle muscle layer of the uterus. This type of fibroid bulges into the endometrial cavity and may cause pain and discomfort depending on its position.
When a subserosal or submuscosal fibroid develops a stem (or penduncle), a slender base that supports the tumor, it becomes known as a pedunculated fibroid. This type of fibroid can develop inside or outside of the uterus. As with all fibroids, symptoms should be monitored but especially so with pedunculated fibroids. Pedunculated fibroids can cause sharp, unexpected pain when the tumor rotates on the peduncle or the stem.
What Happens If Fibroids Go Untreated?
It’s important to remember that fibroids are extremely common and are, more often than not, harmless. In fact, treatment is not necessary if you are symptom-free. Proper management can often delay or prevent serious issues. That said, if you know you have fibroids, employ a watchful approach because they can grow in size and numbers. If you begin to experience any of the symptoms below, it may be time to talk to your doctor about treatment.
- Increased pain
- Abdominal swelling
- Pressure on the bladder that leads to incontinence or frequent urination
Types of Fibroid Procedures
If your symptom pain increases from your uterine fibroids, your doctor may recommend one of several procedures as a next step to treatment. Or, your doctor may recommend removing your fibroids.
A hysteroscopic resection is an option for removing submucous fibroids. The surgeon uses a small camera, inserted in the uterine cavity to clearly see the fibroids. The surgeon then uses an electrode attached at the end of the telescope that passes low-voltage electrical current to strip away the fibroids.
Such a procedure can take place in a day with no surgical incisions and minimal recovery time. A hysteroscopic resection is not suitable for all types of fibroids, and most gynecologists are not skilled in performing this procedure. This may lead to an incomplete discussion of your fertility preserving choices, prolonged suffering with the symptoms, or even an unwanted hysterectomy. An honest discussion surrounding your options is as important as making certain an OB/GYN is skilled at managing the various options. Patients should look in and out of their community for experts and know the only option is not a hysterectomy.
Another procedure that your doctor may recommend is a myomectomy. A myomectomy is often recommended for women who plan to have children, are experiencing infertility or want to keep their uterus.
This procedure, unlike a hysterectomy, leaves the uterus intact while removing the troublesome fibroids. Like a hysteroscopic resection, there are minimal complications. The gynecologic surgeons at the Kaldas Center are among only 1 percent of providers who conduct myomectomies through minimally invasive surgery. In most cases, our patients are treated with just a few tiny incisions and able to go home within 24 hours. That’s unlike most cases performed throughout the country, where the surgery is much more invasive and may require a two- to three-day hospital stay.
Unlike a myomectomy, a hysterectomy removes a woman’s uterus. A hysterectomy should be considered as a last resort, especially among women of child-bearing age. There are several approaches that a surgeon may take with a hysterectomy including an abdominal hysterectomy or a minimally invasive hysterectomy. The approach depends on your surgeon’s experience and your needs. Recovery from a hysterectomy usually takes three to six weeks.
Bothersome fibroids can also be treated with a uterine artery embolization. This procedure involves injecting small particles into the uterine arteries to block the fibroid blood vessels causing the fibroids to shrink and disappear.
Do Fibroids Come Back After Removal?
Although the technology to remove fibroids has advanced considerably, removing them successfully and definitively has become a rare art. Up to 33 percent of women who have surgery to remove fibroids need a repeat procedure to treat new fibroids that have grown in place of the old ones. But, at the Kaldas Center, our success rate is much higher. Our surgeons are among very few in the country who are able to achieve extraordinary results for our patients.
If you’re among those who say, “I have uterine fibroids,” you are certainly not alone. And, something can be done—don’t suffer with unbearable symptoms. Call the Kaldas Center at (920) 886-2299 or visit KaldasCenter.com to talk about your treatment options to lead a life without fibroid pain. You, the patient, are the focus of the Kaldas Center, and the results you deserve.