WHAT ARE UTERINE FIBROIDS?
Uterine fibroids, also known as leiomyomas, are firm, compact tumors that are made up of smooth muscle cells and fibroid connective tissue, ranging from as small as a seed to as large as a melon. You can have either one or multiple fibroids, and while many experience debilitating symptoms, some do not experience symptoms at all.
WHO IS MOST LIKELY TO HAVE FIBROIDS?
African American women between the ages of 18-35 are most likely to develop fibroids; however, any woman can develop them during their lifetime.
WHAT ARE SYMPTOMS OF FIBROIDS?
Fibroid symptoms include: heavy or prolonged periods lasting 10+ days, difficulty emptying your bladder, frequent urination, constipation, lower back or leg pain, bleeding between cycles, protruding belly/abdomen, and/or pelvic pain or pressure.
WHO ARE AT RISK FOR UTERINE FIBROIDS?
If the mother or sister has had fibroids, being from African American descent, started menstruating at an early age, use of birth control, obesity, a vitamin D deficiency, and diet can all affect your risk of developing fibroids.
HOW ARE FIBROIDS DIAGNOSED?
Most fibroids are diagnosed during a routine pelvic exam; however this is not always the case. Interventional radiologists use ultrasound technology, lab tests (a complete blood count, or CBC), MRI, Hysterosonography, Hysteroscopy, or X-Ray depending on the individual situation.
HOW DO I KNOW THAT I HAVE FIBROIDS AND HOW ARE THEY TREATED?
The only way to know for sure that you have fibroids is to see a doctor. Women seeking treatment for uterine fibroids typically make appointments with several specialists to explore fibroid treatment options. Recent advances in medical technology have led to the development of less invasive treatments that allow a woman to keep her uterus.
- Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) – An interventional radiologist uses imaging with non-surgical treatments to remove fibroids. After an ultrasound or MRI, the interventional radiologists can determine if you have fibroids UFE is done by injecting microscopic particles into particular targeted arteries to selectively block blood flow to the fibroids, causing them to shrink.
- Myomectomy (surgical removal of fibroids from uterus), options include abdominal, laparoscopic and hysteroscopic procedures
- Endometrial ablation (treating the uterine lining to reduce menstrual bleeding)
- Hysterectomy (removal of uterus), options include abdominal, laparoscopic and vaginal