July is Fibroid Awareness Month. What You Need to Know.
Uterine fibroids. No doubt you have heard of them, even if you don’t know exactly what they are. What they are, are non-cancerous growths of the uterus, that generally grow during child-bearing years. You might also hear them referred to as Leiomyomas or Myomas. The good thing about them: they are almost never cancerous. The bad thing about them: they can be uncomfortable, cause heavy bleeding and infertility(1).
The smooth muscular tissue of the uterus, which is called the Myometrium, is what a fibroid is made of. Statistics vary, but about 25% of women between the ages of 18-45 develop these rubbery and unpredictable growths(2). One study found that between 80% and 90% of African American women and 70% of white women will develop fibroids by age 50(3) Many women, however, never know they have a fibroid, because they can be infinitesimal, causing no symptoms. Unfortunately, fibroids can also develop into large masses, which can make a woman appear pregnant, while making it impossible for her to become pregnant. A cruel joke, right?
The unpredictability of fibroids makes them difficult to know how to plan a course of treatment. While they can grow quickly for particular periods of time, they can also shrink.
While many fibroids don’t cause symptoms, some unfortunately do. Those symptoms can include some or all of the following(4):
- Heavy bleeding
- A full feeling in the pelvic, lower area of the stomach
- Enlargement of the lower abdomen
- Frequent urination
- Pain during sex
- Pain in the lower back
- Inability to get pregnant
Again, if you don’t have any symptoms from fibroids, and they’re not affecting the quality of your life, you don’t need to do a thing about them. However, if they are, there are now better options than there were for our mother’s generation.
And that’s very good news.
Once upon a time the only way to rid yourself of fibroids was to undergo a hysterectomy, which removed the fibroid and uterus in a rather involved surgery, requiring a fair amount of recovery, and which of course, left a woman unable to bear a child. So, eliminating a fibroid even just 20 years ago, meant you might also have to eliminate the option of having children. What a choice to have to make! Even for those women who were done bearing children, having a hysterectomy resulted in the repercussions of menopause, not to mention an abdominal surgery, and several weeks of recovery time. Fortunately, technology has improved dramatically.
For instance, with the Myosure® device, a minimally invasive intrauterine procedure can help women for whom a fibroid is preventing conception. Because fibroids can cause heavy bleeding, the procedure can also help alleviate that, as well. Women who have had the procedure say that it doesn’t require a lot of downtime, and that the discomfort is very minimal. In short, a physician inserts a slender instrument into the uterus through the vagina, and removes the fibroid, or fibroids (it is used for polyps, as well). The uterus is not cut. By not having to cut the uterus, the MyoSure device can preserve its form and function. This is not your grandmother’s fibroid treatment (although she can use it now)! It is a procedure that is done as day surgery, and most women are back to their normal activities within one to two days(5).This option is changing the course of women’s lives and health.
If you’re experiencing heavy bleeding, and don’t know why, or you’re having trouble getting pregnant, or you know you have a fibroid and would like to give it a goodbye party, the first and best thing to do is to talk to your doctor. It’s very possible that your symptoms could be caused by fibroids. If they are, you now have less invasive treatment options that can help you get rid of your fibroids, and get back to your life.
(3) Baird, D. D., Dunson, D. B., Hill, M. C., Cousins, D., & Schectman, J. M. (2003). High cumulative incidence of uterine leiomyoma in black and white women: Ultrasound evidence. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 188, 100–107.
- Posted by holx-admin
- On July 10, 2015