Fibroids are benign tumors that develop along the muscular lining of the uterus. They are made up of fibrous connective tissues and smooth muscle cells, often occurring during childbearing years. They are benign and therefore are not associated with any increased risks of uterine cancer, nor do they have the potential to become cancer. Fibroids appear in a range of sizes from undetectable seed-like lump to bulky masses that distort the shape of the uterus, even reaching the rib cage and adding weight. A majority of women develop fibroids in their life but unless it grows large, it often goes undetected because it has no other symptoms. Dr. Wallace Mclean can help provide care and medication as well as surgery to shrink or remove them altogether.
Diagnosing Uterine Fibroids
Fibroids have no specific symptoms and unless they grow large, you can only discover them during a pelvic exam. But for women with fibroids, these exams can be painful. Some of the indications to watch out for include frequent urination, heavy bleeding and painful periods, pain during intercourse, swelling in the lower abdomen, complications during pregnancy and reproductive problems such as infertility. If you experience some or all of these symptoms, make an immediate appointment with your OB/GYN. Make a list of the symptoms, even those you’re not sure, and a list of medications that you take.
The doctor will need to perform some tests, most likely a pelvic exam. Blood tests, such as a complete blood count can also be done to help the physician rule out other conditions. They may also perform imaging tests such as an MRI or ultrasounds. If you’re diagnosed with fibroids, ask as many questions as possible to understand the condition and treatment options. You may need to know the location of the fibroids, how many there are and what treatment plan the physician recommends.
Treatment with Medication
Hormonal medications are often prescribed to reduce the symptoms of fibroids, regulate menstrual cycles and reduce bleeding. Examples of hormonal medication include contraceptive pills and other progestational agents. The medication should reduce bleeding within three or four months, but if it doesn’t work, talk to the OB/GYN. Ask the doctor about the expected side effects of these medications, which include lowered sex drive, weight gain, mood changes and nausea, among others.
To prevent fibroid symptoms such as heavy bleeding, a progestin-releasing intrauterine device can be implanted in your uterus. It can stay in the body for up to five years. It only reduces the symptoms, but doesn’t diminish the fibroids. Tranexamic acid can be used to ease the discomfort during heavy periods and relieve other symptoms of uterine fibroids. Lastly, you can also consider using GnRH agonist medication to send the body into a temporary phase of menopause. It pauses menstruation and causes fibroids to shrink.
Uterine Artery Embolization (UAE) can be very effective in treating fibroids. The procedure involves injecting small particles known as embolic agents into the arteries supplying the uterus with blood. This causes the blood supply to be cut off, killing the fibroid tissues. The procedure is performed by a radiologist, and should only be considered if you have no hopes of conceiving in future.
However, if you do hope to conceive, a myomectomy procedure is the best option to remove fibroids. Fibroids can be removed through the vagina, the abdomen or small incisions can be made to remove them. The size of the fibroids and the extent of invasiveness will determine which method is right for you. Additionally, you can opt for myolysis procedure if you want to recover quickly. The process involves sending an electric current to destroy the fibroid tissues.