Uterine fibroids are among the most common forms of benign tumors in women. There is more than seventy percent of women that will suffer from uterine fibroids before they reach the age of fifty. These women may even experience this condition more than once.

Uterine fibroids do not have any connection with cancer, but still, present themselves as an inconvenience and nuisance inside the female body. There is no real cause known for the development of uterine fibroids, and it is uncertain what can be done to prevent their growth.

The uterine fibroids are not always harmless. These growths can be tiny, or they can weigh as much as several pounds in some cases. The sooner you have these growths detected by your doctor at All Women's Care, the easier it will be to have them removed or treated.

Symptoms Caused by Uterine Fibroids

  • Intense Menstrual Bleeding

Most women go through regular menstrual cycles with their amounts of blood they lose at normal levels. Intense menstrual bleeding is an easy symptom to notice if uterine fibroids develop.

Most women who suffer from uterine fibroids learn about their condition after they’ve noticed excessive bleeding during their cycle. Another symptom of uterine fibroids is blood clots. These clots would also be noticeable during a menstrual cycle.

If you notice an increase in your monthly flow, your cycle lasting longer than usual, or excessive blood clots, contact your physician at All Women's Care to determine if there are uterine fibroids present.

  • Pressure on your Bladder

Uterine fibroids will cause pressure on your bladder because of the proximity of the two organs. If the fibroids are small, the pressure may be light; if they are larger, it can cause frequent urination or severe pain in your lower stomach area. If any blood appears in your bladder, it can be the sign of large fibroids. These cases are not common, but there have been cases where the bladder can become damaged from uterine fibroids. If one of these growths causes a rip in the bladder, it can cause leakage of urine throughout the body, which has a fatal outcome.

  • Pressure on the Rectum

Uterine fibroids can cause other painful conditions. These growths can cause rectum pressure. If the fibroids are small, there will be only a small amount of pressure on your large intestine. If they are larger, they can block the intestine completely and cause serious constipation. You must talk to your physician at All Women's Care as soon as symptoms appear. If not treated early, the fibroids can cause permanent damage to your digestive tract. This damage can also lead to a series of surgeries.

  • Sensation of Feeling Full But With No Appetite

A person typically knows their own limits as to how much they can eat and when their stomach should be full. If you notice you are beginning to feel full before you've consumed an average amount of food, or haven't eaten, it could be a sign uterine fibroids have developed in your stomach. These fibroids can push up into your stomach and cause you to feel full because there is limited space for digestion.

If gone untreated, you could lose a significant and unhealthy amount of weight because you are not feeling hungry and not eating. You need to contact your physician at All Women’s Care to have your condition diagnosed and treated.

  • An Increase in Your Waist Size

For many, it is evident if there is any change in your body shape or size. A change in your waist size is a visible sign of a uterine fibroid. A visual difference in your body is evident right away, as some of them cause an increase in the separated abdominal muscle or blood vessels.

If you do not notice a visual sign, the way the fit of your clothes changes is another sign of uterine fibroids being present in your body. When a large uterine fibroid develops, it will cause an expansion in your abdomen. Talk to your doctor at All Women's Care if there is a change in how your body looks or how your clothes fit, and you haven't made any changes to your food intake. A test will need to be done to determine the cause for these changes, and a treatment plan created before you suffer serious complications to your health.

  • Inability to Become Pregnant

Medical infertility is when a woman is unable to become pregnant after trying for one year. Medical infertility is only diagnosed if there are no other factors present, such as a previous abortion, low male sperm count, or another medical condition.

If you have gone through all the fertility testing, and no other reason is found to be a cause for infertility, uterine fibroids may be the reason. Your doctor at All Women’s Care will know to look for these growths in determining infertility, which could save you precious time in beginning your family.

  • Bleeding In Between Cycles

Bleeding in between your cycles is not always a sign of uterine fibroids as other medical conditions can cause this symptom. If you do begin bleeding when it is not the time for your menstrual period, contact your doctor to determine the cause and possibly have a treatment plan started.

There are a number of medical tests necessary to determine if a person is suffering from uterine fibroids. Your doctor at All Women's Care will want to complete checks to eliminate any other possible conditions that could be causing the bleeding. In many women, uterine fibroids can grow to a significant size because they are afraid to create a false alarm. Don't wait to schedule an appointment if you suspect you may have developed uterine fibroids.

  • Pelvic Mass

A uterine fibroid can be discovered during other medical check-ups. Having regular exams each year is an excellent way to avoid these growths from reaching significant sizes. If you have frequent checkups and take care of your body, there is a higher chance of early discovery. If your doctor at All Women's Care discovers them while they are still small, they can be removed before they become a medical risk.

  • Menstrual Bleeding becomes Irregular

Other factors with your menstrual cycle that can signal uterine fibroids have developed is your cycle becoming irregular. Heavier bleeding than normal, bleeding in between cycles, and menstrual cycles that become irregular are signs uterine fibroids have impacted your ovaries and the rest of your reproductive system.

Missing a cycle of your menstruation is a good indication your uterus and ovaries have something wrong with them. It can be related to stress; however, if you miss a cycle, and especially if there is more than one missed cycle, you need to seek medical attention.

  • Diarrhea

Diarrhea is not a common symptom for uterine fibroids, but it can be one of the symptoms you could experience. Depending on your stomach sensitivity will determine if you experience diarrhea and how severe it could become.

Diagnosing Uterine Fibroids

Most often, uterine fibroids are discovered during routine pelvic exams. When your doctor performs an exam of your pelvic, they may notice irregularities in your uterus, suggesting the growth of fibroids. If you have any of the above-listed symptoms, you should contact your doctor, who may need to perform one of these tests to determine the presence of uterine fibroids:

  • Ultrasound

An ultrasound may be necessary to get a picture of your uterus and confirm a diagnosis of uterine fibroids. An ultrasound uses sound waves and will be able to map and measure any fibroids that may be present. 

  • Lab Tests

If you talk to your doctor about abnormal menstrual cycles, they more than likely will schedule tests to discover any potential causes. Some of the tests that are performed for irregular menstrual cycles include blood counts to check for anemia or other chronic blood loss. These blood tests can also rule out thyroid problems or other bleeding disorders.

Imaging Tests to Detect Uterine Fibroids

If ultrasound does not provide the information your doctor needs to make a diagnosis, they may need other imaging tests, such as:

  • MRI

MRI or magnetic resonance imaging can show your doctor the location and size of fibroids. This test can also show in detail any other forms of tumors and help them establish appropriate treatment plans. The MRI option is often used in women who have a large uterus or are approaching menopause.

  • Hysterosalpingography

Hysterosonography or saline infusion sonogram is performed with sterile saline to enlarge your uterine cavity, so it is easier for your doctor to get images of submucosal fibroids. It will also allow your doctor to check the lining of your uterus if you are trying to get pregnant or are experiencing heavy menstrual bleeding.

  • Hysterosonography

Hysterosonography, or saline infusion sonogram is performed with sterile saline to enlarge your uterine cavity so it is easier for your doctor to get images of submucosal fibroids. It will also allow your doctor to check the lining of your uterus if you are trying to get pregnant, or are experiencing heavy menstrual bleeding.

  • Hysteroscopy

Hysteroscopy is where your doctor will insert a lighted, small telescope through your cervix and into your uterus. The telescope, called a hysteroscope, will allow your doctor to examine the walls of your uterus and opening of fallopian tubes after a saline solution is injected to expand your uterine cavity.

Treatment of Uterine Fibroids

There are several treatment options for treating uterine fibroids. Your doctor will determine the best choice for yours once a diagnosis has been made. Some of the options will include: 

  • Watch and Wait

Some cases of uterine fibroids are mildly annoying, and some show no symptoms at all. If this is the case with your fibroids, it may be suggested you watch and wait until they become more uncomfortable or show physical signs of enlarging.

Uterine fibroids are not cancerous and rarely interfere with pregnancy. Their growth is typically slow, and some don't increase in size after developing. Uterine fibroids can even shrink in some women after they go into menopause when their levels of reproductive hormones fall.

  • Medicine 

Medications can be used to treat uterine fibroids when they target and regulate your menstrual cycle. These medicines can treat symptoms such as pelvic pressure or heavy menstrual bleeding. The medication will not eliminate the fibroids, but they will be able to shrink them. These medicines include:

GnRH Agonists

GnRh Agonists (Gonadotropin-releasing hormone) is a medicine that treats uterine fibroids by blocking the production of progesterone and estrogen. This medicine will temporarily put your body into a menopause-like state. When this state occurs, your menstruation stops, the fibroids shrink, and anemia improves.

Many women will experience menopause-type hot flashes while using this medication. These are generally used for no longer than six months as the symptoms will return when the medicine is stopped, and this medicine can cause bone loss if used long-term. This type of medication is typically prescribed before a planned surgery to shrink your fibroids, or to help a woman transition into menopause.

Progestin IUD

A progestin IUD, intrauterine device, is a progestin-releasing IUD, which can relieve heavy bleeding caused by uterine fibroids. This type of IUD provides relief to your symptoms, but will not shrink or eliminate the fibroids. It will also prevent you from becoming pregnant.

Tranexamic Acid

Tranexamic acid (Lysteda or Cyklokapron) is a non-hormonal medication taken to ease heavy menstrual periods. This medication is only taken on days when your bleeding is heavy.

Other Medicines

There are additional medicines your doctor may prescribe, such as oral contraceptives that can control your menstrual bleeding, but they will not reduce or eliminate the fibroids.

NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) can be useful in reducing pain caused by your fibroids. They will not reduce bleeding caused by fibroids. Your doctor at All Women's Care may also suggest you take iron and vitamins to help with anemia and heavy menstrual bleeding.

Noninvasive Procedures to Treat Uterine Fibroids 

  • Focused Ultrasound Surgery (FUS)

An MRI guided FUS is an option to treat uterine fibroids. This procedure will preserve your uterus and does not require an incision. The surgery is performed as an out-patient service.

Using an MRI scanner that is equipped with a high-energy ultrasound transducer, the doctor receives images of the fibroids and their exact location. Knowing the location of the fibroids, allows your physician to target them with the ultrasound transducer sound waves and destroy them with heat. This procedure sends sonications (sound waves) into the fibroid tissue and eliminates them.

The FUS MRI-Guided method is a new technology, and researchers are learning more about its long-term effectiveness and safety. The data collected to date is showing the FUS procedure to treat uterine fibroids is both effective and safe.

Minimally Invasive Procedures to Treat Uterine Fibroids

There are other options your doctor at All Women’s Care may find more effective to treat your uterine fibroids. These options include:

  • Radiofrequency Ablation

During a radiofrequency ablation procedure, radiofrequency energy is used to destroy the uterine fibroids and shrink the blood vessels which are responsible for feeding them. The procedure can be performed through a transcervical or laparoscopic method and is similar to cryomyolysis, which is a procedure to freeze the fibroids.

During a laparoscopic radiofrequency ablation procedure, known as Lap-RFA, your physician will make two small incisions into your abdomen. They will then insert a tiny viewing instrument called a laparoscope with a camera attached into the incision. By using the camera and the laparoscopic ultrasound tool, they are then able to locate and treat the fibroids.

Once the fibroids are located, your physician will use a unique device that is able to send small needles into the growth. These needles are heated up and when placed into the tissue of the fibroid, it will destroy it. When the tissue is destroyed, it will change its consistency, much like a golf ball becoming a marshmallow. Over the next several months, this altered fibroid will continue to shrink and improve your symptoms.

During a Lap-RFA, there is no cutting of your uterine tissue, so it is considered a less-invasive procedure when compared to the myomectomy or hysterectomy. Generally, women who have this procedure done can go back to their normal routines within seven days after the surgery. If the transcervical method of this procedure is chosen, it will also use ultrasound guidance to locate and destroy the fibroids.

  • Uterine Artery Embolization

During a uterine artery embolization, small embolic agents are injected into the arteries, which supply the uterus to cut off the flow of blood to the fibroids. This process will cause them to die and shrink.

The uterine artery embolization is effective in shrinking the fibroids and also relieves the symptoms they cause. The procedure could cause complications if the blood supply to your ovaries or other organs is affected. Research has shown the complications involved with this procedure are similar to those of fibroid treatment done surgically, and the risk of transfusion significantly reduced.

  • Hysteroscopic Myomectomy

Hysteroscopic myomectomy is a procedure used as an option if your fibroids are inside of your uterus. Your physcian at All Women's Care will access and remove the fibroids with the use of instruments inserted through your vagina and cervix into your uterus.

  • Robotic or Laparoscopic Myomectomy

During a myomectomy, your doctor will remove the fibroids, but leave your uterus in place. If there are few fibroids, they may opt to perform a laparoscopic or robotic procedure. This process involves using slender instruments inserted through small incisions in your abdomen. The fibroids are then removed from your uterus.

If the fibroids are larger, they can be removed through smaller incisions by breaking them into pieces, or morcellation. This process is done inside a surgical bag, or by increasing the size of one incision to remove the fibroids.

Your physician will look in your abdominal area using a small camera attached to an instrument that sends the images to a monitor. The use of robotic myomectomy allows your doctor a 3D, magnified image of your uterus to provide precise movement of the removal process. This procedure will also give your doctor more flexibility and dexterity with their movements than is possible with other techniques.

  • Endometrial Ablation

Endometrial ablation uses a unique instrument that is inserted into your uterus. The tool uses heat or microwave energy, hot water, or an electric current to destroy the lining of your uterus. This procedure will either end your menstrual cycles or reduce the flow during your cycles. It is effective in ending unusual bleeding, but will not affect fibroids outside the lining of your uterus.

It is unlikely a woman will get pregnant following an endometrial ablation procedure. She will, however, have to continue with birth control measures to prevent a pregnancy from occurring in a fallopian tube.

Any of the procedures done that do not involve removal of the uterus will allow the risk of fibroids to re-grow and create new symptoms.

Traditional Surgical Procedures to Remove Uterine Fibroids

  • Hysterectomy

A hysterectomy is the removal of a woman’s uterus and is the only proven and permanent solution for uterine fibroids. This surgery will end a woman’s ability to have children. If at the time of the hysterectomy, a woman chooses to have her ovaries removed, it will bring on menopause. Choosing to remove the ovaries during a hysterectomy is an option. Discuss this procedure with your doctor at All Women’s Care to learn the best option for you.

  • Abdominal Myomectomy

If you have been diagnosed with multiple fibroids that are considered significant in size, your doctor at All Women's Care may suggest you have an abdominal myomectomy, which is an open surgical procedure to remove the fibroids.

The abdominal myomectomy is an alternative to a hysterectomy but can leave scarring that could affect future fertility. Your doctor will discuss these options with you to find the best possible solution for your diagnosis.

Where Can I Find Treatment for Uterine Fibroids Near Me?

If you are displaying any symptoms that indicate the growth of uterine fibroids, contact All Women's Care at 213-250-9461. Early detection and treatment can prevent future medical complication or infertility issues. At All Women's Care, it is our goal to serve and provide all women with the highest standard of care. We will ensure you understand your diagnosis and all treatment options. Call us today and schedule an appointment to discuss your medical concerns and allow us to provide you with the excellent medical care and advice you deserve.