Millions of women suffer from fibroids, yet many are not entirely sure what this disease is. Fibroids are growths that form on the uterine wall. While most of these growths don’t cause any problems, some women experience pain, heavy periods, and infertility. There is no clear answer as to what causes this disease, but there are a few things that may raise your risk of developing a tumor. If you think you may have this disease, speak with our doctor about treatment options. Here at North Texas Fibroids in Flower Mound, TX, we offer different ways to treat your condition, so there’s bound to be a solution that works for you.
What Are Fibroids?
Fibroids are noncancerous growths of the uterus and often appear during childbearing years. Also called uterine leiomyomas or myomas, they range in size from tiny seedlings to large masses that can enlarge the uterus and the abdomen.
The Cause and Development
It’s not clear what causes Fibroids. However, it is thought to develop from alterations in the normal cell division process of the smooth muscle cells of the uterus. When these cells divide too rapidly or in an uncontrolled way, they may accumulate to form a mass known as a leiomyoma. While it isn’t clear what causes these changes in cell division, we do know that hormones play an important role.
Estrogen and progesterone, two female hormones produced at high levels during childbearing years, stimulate the growth of smooth muscle cells and blood vessels in the uterus – both of which are necessary for the development of uterine leiomyomas. That’s why the disease is much more common in women of reproductive age than in women who have gone through menopause.
Who Is at Risk?
1. Women Who Are Obese or Overweight
At its root, obesity is an excess of stored energy in the form of fat. While that may not sound like a serious problem, it actually puts women at risk for a number of health problems, including uterine leiomyomas.
Obese women tend to have higher levels of estrogen due to their higher body fat percentage. This excess estrogen can lead to the development of uterine tumors. In addition, obesity can also contribute to inflammation throughout the body, which has also been linked to the development of the disease.
2. Women Who Have a Family History of the Disease
If you have a family history of the disease, your risk of developing the condition is increased. This is because the development of uterine leiomyomas is thought to be influenced by genetics. Specifically, mutations in the fumarate hydratase (FH) gene have been linked to a higher risk of the disease. Therefore, if you have a family history of the condition, it’s crucial to be aware of your risk and to talk to your doctor about possible preventive measures.
3. Women Who Have Never Given Birth
Another key risk factor for uterine leiomyoma is simply not having children. Why exactly is this the case? One theory is that hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy seem to reduce/suppress the development of the disease.
4. African American Women
African American women have a much higher risk of developing this disease than women of other races. By age 30, about 25% of black women will have the disease, and by age 50, that number will jump to 80%. Additionally, black women are 2-3 times more likely to suffer from a recurring leiomyoma.
5. Early Onset of Menstruation
Did you know that the age at which you first get your period can actually have an impact on your health? Studies have shown that women who experience early onset of menstruation (before the age of 10) are at increased risk of developing uterine leiomyoma.
1. Heavy, Prolonged Menstrual Bleeding
This is the most common symptom associated with uterine leiomyoma. If you have heavy menstrual bleeding, you may bleed for more than seven days, have blood clots larger than a quarter, or need to change your pad or tampon more frequently than usual.
2. Pelvic Pain and Pressure
You may feel pelvic pain and pressure as a result of the size and location of your tumors. For example, if you have submucosal uterine leiomyoma (which grows in the innermost lining of the uterus), you may experience heavy bleeding. If you have intramural leiomyoma (which grows within the thick wall of the uterus), you may feel pelvic pressure.
3. Frequent Urination
The tumors can press on your bladder and cause you to feel the urge to urinate more frequently than normal. This is especially common if you have large growths.
4. Lower Backache or Leg Pain
The tumors can put pressure on your nerves and cause backache or pain in your legs. This is accompanied by a feeling of heaviness in the pelvic area.
In some cases, the disease can make it difficult to become pregnant or carry a baby to term. This is usually the case if the tumors are large and located near the opening of the cervix.
Other symptoms include:
- Pain during sex
- Abnormal vaginal discharge
- Difficulty urinating
We understand that no two patients are alike. That’s why we offer over six different treatments, tailoring our approach to the specific needs of each patient.
1. Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE)
In medicine, embolization (or devascularization) is a non-surgical treatment that blocks the blood supply to a certain area of the body. The purpose of the procedure is to shrink a tumor by depriving it of oxygen and nutrients.
Certain medications can help alleviate the symptoms. Birth control pills, for example, can help to regulate hormone levels, which can, in turn, reduce the pain and inflammation associated with the disease. IUDs can also be effective in reducing symptoms.
Hormone injections may also be recommended in some cases, as they can help to shrink the endometrial tissue. However, it is important to remember that these medications do not cure the disease, but help control it. If you are considering taking any of these medications, it is important to speak to our doctor first to discuss your condition.
3. Endometrial Ablation
Endometrial ablation is a medical technique that is used to remove the endometrium or lining of the uterus. The process is performed using a specialized laser device that delivers high-frequency electrical energy to the endometrium. This energy destroys the tissue and prevents it from regrowing.
4. MR-Guided Focused Ultrasound
MR-guided focused ultrasound is a relatively new and not very common option that’s still being studied. This treatment uses MR imaging to guide high-frequency sound waves to the area of the tumor. The ultrasound beams destroy the growth tissue while leaving the surrounding tissue unharmed.
Hysterectomy is a surgical procedure to remove the uterus. This can be done through an incision in the abdomen or through the vagina. Hysterectomy is often recommended as a treatment option for uterine leiomyomas and is considered a permanent solution. It can also be used to treat other conditions of the uterus such as endometriosis. The recovery period usually takes 6-8 weeks.
Other treatment options include:
What Happens if the Disease Goes Untreated?
While they are usually benign, in some cases uterine leiomyoma can cause health problems if left untreated. Growth tissues can vary in size, and some women may have multiple tumors. Depending on their location, they can cause pain and cramping, as well as heavy and prolonged menstrual bleeding. In severe cases, they can lead to infertility or miscarriage.
What Can Worsen Your Condition?
A poor diet is one of the most significant. Red meats, processed foods, and high-fat dairy can all worsen symptoms and encourage the growth of new tumors. In contrast, a healthy diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help to reduce the size of existing tumors and prevent new ones from forming.
Other potential triggers include stress, hormone imbalances, and certain medications. If you suspect that any of these factors may be contributing to the worsening your condition, it is important to speak with our doctor. With their help, you can develop a plan to address the underlying causes and improve your overall health.
Find Relief Today!
Uterine leiomyomas or myomas are benign tumors that form in the uterus. While they are not cancerous, they can cause a number of problems. If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms, it’s crucial to see a doctor right away for diagnosis and treatment. Contact us today at North Texas Fibroids in Flower Mound, TX, to schedule a consultation and find out how we can help you live a better life!