Have you been diagnosed with uterine fibroids, which are also called leiomyomas, or myomas? If so, you’re not alone. Experts estimate that by the age of 50 years old, somewhere between 70 and 80% of American women have fibroids. Often, fibroids don’t cause any symptoms at all, so you may not even know that you have them.
When fibroids are a concern
Although many women never even know that they have fibroids, the National Institutes of Health considers them to be a public health concern. Partly because so many women do have fibroids, and also because a large number of hysterectomies are performed in order to address fibroids when they do cause symptoms.
If you have symptoms, you may experience:
- Heavy bleeding during or between your periods
- Pain in your lower back or pelvis
- Cramping during your menstrual cycle
- Painful intercourse
- Longer-than-usual periods
- A feeling of pressure in your lower abdomen
- Swelling in your abdomen
Types of fibroids
There are several different types of uterine fibroids. They are classified by where they are located on your uterus.
- Intramural fibroids - most common, appear in the wall of your uterus
- Subserosal fibroids - on the outside of your uterus
- Pedunculated fibroids - when a subserosal fibroid develops a slender base that looks like a stem
- Submucosal fibroids - less common, appear in the middle muscle layer of your uterus
You may have a single fibroid, or multiple ones. Fibroids can be tiny, or so large they distort the shape of your uterus or abdomen.
It is extremely rare for uterine fibroids to develop into cancer and they are not associated with an increased risk of developing cancer.
At Longoria OBGYN, Dr. Leonardo A. Longoria may recommend various treatments for your fibroids, depending on numerous factors. For example, your age, the size of your fibroids, the severity of your symptoms, and your general health are all important in choosing a treatment approach.
There is some evidence that eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, lowering your overall stress level, and maintaining a healthy weight may help prevent fibroids.
A category of drugs called gonadotropin releasing hormone agonists (GnRHa) may be an option, but these drugs may cause symptoms similar to menopause. Some common types of birth control may also help ease some of the symptoms of fibroids, as well as limit their growth.
Several surgical interventions are used to treat fibroids, including:
- Myomectomy - the removal of the fibroids without removing uterine tissue
- Hysterectomy - removal of your uterus
- Endometrial ablation - removal or destruction of the lining of your uterus
- Myolysis - fibroids are either electrified or frozen through the use of a needle
- Uterine fibroid embolization - blood supply to the fibroid is obstructed, causing it to shrink
Your situation is unique, and if you have or suspect you have uterine fibroids, call our office at 915-201-1165 or request an appointment online. Dr. Longoria can evaluate your situation and consider all of the factors that may impact your treatment, providing you with a tailored approach designed specifically for you.