Fibroid Awareness Week
April 19th through April 23rd
A week dedicated to education about fibroids.
Did you know that fibroids affect 40 percent of women?
(20-80% by age 50 according to the U.S. Department of Health
& Human Services)
50% of those being African American women?
Well, we didn’t either.
We figured that we would provide you as much info as we could accumulate,
from a source in the “know”, www.fibroids.com.
Fibroid Must Knows
What is a Uterine Fibroid Tumor?
Fibroid tumors are benign (non-cancerous) growths that appear on the muscular wall of the uterus. They are the most common tumors of the female genital tract. You may hear them called other names like leiomyoma, leiomyomata, or myoma. They range in size from microscopic to masses that fill the entire abdominal cavity. In some cases, fibroids can be as large as a 5-month pregnancy. Uterine fibroids can affect women of all ages, but are most common in women ages 40 to 50. In most cases, there is more than one fibroid in the uterus. Fibroids consist of dense, fibrous tissue (hence the name ‘fibroid’) and are nourished and sustained by a series of blood vessels.
Uterine fibroids cause different symptoms depending on their number and where they are located in the uterus. There are 3 different classifications:
Intramural Uterine Fibroids
Are located in the wall of the uterus and are the most common type of fibroids. They cause the uterus to become enlarged, and can cause pelvic pain, heavy menstrual bleeding, pelvic or back pain, and pressure.
Submucosal uterine fibroids
Are located inside the lining of the uterus and protrude inward. These cause heavy bleeding and heavy, prolonged periods.
Subserosal Uterine Fibroids
Are located outside of the lining of the uterus and protrude outward. They have less of an affect on your period, but may cause back pain or pressure. The subserosal fibroid can also grow on a stalk attached to the uterus, in which case it is called ‘pendunculated.’ The stalk may become twisted and can cause severe pelvic pain.
What are the symptoms?
While not cancerous, uterine fibroids can cause problems. Depending on size, location and number of fibroids, common symptoms include:
Though very common, most fibroids don’t cause symptoms- only 10 to 20 percent require treatment. However, you may experience no symptoms or have mild symptoms, but still need treatment.
Why do I have them?
No one knows. Fibroids affect 40% of women over 35 years in America and have a high rate of incidence among African Americans. There is a possible link between uterine fibroid tumors and estrogen production. Fibroids can grow very large during pregnancy, when estrogen levels are high, and can shrink back down after pregnancy. They usually improve in menopause, when estrogen levels decrease.
How do I find out if I have fibroids?
Women usually will undergo an ultrasound in their gynecologist’s office as part of the process to determine if fibroids are present. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is also used to determine if fibroids can be treated with embolization and provide information about any underlying disease. MRI is the standard imaging technique for evaluating fibroids because it provides a clearer image than ultrasound and can detect other causes of pelvic pain and/or bleeding you may be experiencing.
Uterine Fibroid Treatment
There are many treatments available if you have fibroids. If your doctor recommends a hysterectomy, you should seek a second opinion and be aware of all your options. Most women with symptomatic fibroids are candidates for Uterine Artery Embolization, but should consult with their doctor to determine if it is the right choice for them.,
Uterine Artery Embolization is Non-Surgical
Uterine artery embolization (UAE), also called uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) is an endovascular procedure, meaning it is done through the arterial system. It is non-surgical and minimally invasive. It does not require general anesthesia- the groin is numbed and the patient is sedated, but still conscious enough to respond to a question.
The surgeon first makes a small nick in the skin on the groin, above the femoral artery and inserts a catheter. Under real-time x-ray guidance, the surgeon identifies the uterine artery on both sides of the uterus. These arteries supply blood for the fibroids in most patients suffering from uterine fibroids. The doctor then injects tiny particles, about the size of a grain of sand, into the uterine arteries to block the blood supply to the uterus. These particles slow blood flow to the fibroids, causing them to shrink.
Recovery time after uterine fibroid embolization is usually an over-night stay in the hospital, mostly to monitor pain with pain medications. Most women return to light activities and work within one week. After embolization, bleeding stops immediately in most patients, and fibroids shrink gradually to about 50% within 6 months.
Uterine fibroids can be treated with surgery, including hysterectomy, which removes the entire uterus, and myomectomy, which removes the fibroids but leaves the uterus. Both are major surgeries that require 4 days in the hospital and a 6-week recovery period. Myomectomy can preserve fertility, but carries the additional risk of recurrence, since most women have multiple fibroids and it is impossible to cut them all out.
What are the chances of a child being born healthy by a mother affected by fibroids during pregnancy?
If you are pregnant and have fibroids, you may be able to sleep a little better at night knowing that the battle is half over. Several of the complications related to fibroids occur prior to becoming pregnant. It is because of certain types of fibroids that women experience infertility. This is often due to the fact that these fibroids may either block a fallopian tube, thereby stopping the sperm from ever reaching the egg or may bulge into the uterine cavity, changing the natural shape of the uterus and preventing a newly fertilized egg from being planted. Therefore, if you have successfully passed this stage and are now well into your pregnancy, you may have a little less to worry about.
It is not to say, however, that you will be problem-free if you have fibroids during your pregnancy. Although many fibroids do not cause any problems during pregnancy, some fibroids -especially those located in the cavity of the uterus-may increase the chance of a miscarriage (in which the pregnancy ends before 20 weeks) or may cause a woman to go into premature labor. They may also increase the chance that the baby is not positioned to come out headfirst which can increase the need for cesarean section. Other complications due to fibroids may include discomfort, feelings of pressure, or pain.
Because of the reasons stated above and simply to ensure the proper growth of your baby, it is important to constantly have your pregnancy monitored by your physician. Although fibroids, almost never directly affect the health of your baby during pregnancy, it is necessary to keep close watch.
All things considered, if you are able to successfully deliver your baby, you should feel comforted knowing that the fibroids have no affect on the health of your newly born baby.
Should I surgically treat the fibroids before I give birth to avoid further complications?
Unfortunately, fibroids cannot be removed during pregnancy because of the risk of injury to the uterus and hemorrhage. Treatment is often limited to pain medication and medication to prevent premature labor, if necessary.
Most pregnant women who have fibroids will not experience any complications with their pregnancy. During pregnancy, there is usually an increase in the size of the fibroid due to increased hormone flow. Additionally, some of the complications that may arise include: obstructed labor, postpartum hemorrhaging, stalled labor, and forcing the fetus into an unusual position. Your physician will keep close watch to monitor and prevent the occurrence of most of these complications. Still, in approximately 75% of cases, there are no problems as a result of fibroids.
In the majority of cases, the symptoms are inconvenient and unpleasant, but do not result in health problems. Some of the more common minor symptoms pregnant women do experience are pelvic pain and light spotting. Additional symptoms include: pelvic pain or pressure, constipation, back pain, pain during intercourse and pain in the back of the legs.
(Thanks to www.fibroids.com for the above content)
How Do I Learn More?
There is a lot more to learn about fibroids, but if it is such a common problem that we might all face, it is essential that we are educated and we know what the options are for treatment. Take a closer look at these sites that provide all sorts of information on Uterine Fibroids.
Fibroid Treatment Collective
Fibroid Awareness Week Pdf Document
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
Women’s Health Matters
Canadian Association of Radiologists