We spoke to USA Fibroid Centers to get the low down on uterine fibroids. From what they are, to what to do if you are diagnosed.
What are uterine fibroids?
“Uterine fibroids, also known as leiomyomas, are the most common benign (non-cancerous) tumours of the female reproductive system. Fibroids typically develop in women who are of reproductive age. These tumours grow both within and outside the wall of the uterus. Fibroids are made up of smooth, muscle cells and fibrous connective tissue, and contain more estrogen and progesterone receptors than the average uterine muscle cells. There are four different kinds of fibroids: intramural, subserosal, submucosal, and pedunculated fibroids. These different types are classified by their location in the uterus and often to respond directly to treatment.
Even though many researchers and doctors are still unclear about what definitively causes uterine fibroids, there are a few factors that seem to influence their growth: an influx in hormones and genetic factors. If you started your period at a young age, have used birth control, have a vitamin D deficiency, drink alcohol, and if you are overweight, can all increase your chance of developing fibroids.
What are the symptoms?
Many people live with heavy, long periods and do not think to question it. Severe periods that cause you to alter arrangements or constantly worry in the back of your mind should be checked out.
Fibroids can range in size from as small as a seed, to as large as a melon. Therefore symptoms can vary. Symptoms are influenced by the size, location, and quantity of fibroids. Depending on their location, fibroids can cause painful sex, protruding of the belly/abdomen, frequent urination or difficulty emptying the bladder, lower back or leg pain, constipation, and sometimes affect the woman’s ability to conceive. Between 32-40% of people who have periods, report menstrual pain so severe that they have to miss substantial work or school. Not only can this cause immense stress in their personal lives and relationships, but it can also force these people to miss out on invaluable career opportunities.
How can fibroid symptoms affect you?
Our patients report that they often felt “controlled” by their fibroid symptoms. They discussed how their symptoms were preventing them from living a full life, and severely affected their relationship with family, friends, and their significant other. If you experience unpredictable bleeding between cycles, this can make it difficult to track and manage your period. Fibroids not only affect you physically but also mentally. Our patients often report that due to missing out on events and activities with friends or family, they felt hopeless and depressed. The daily struggle of living with fibroids can be frustrating, especially if you’re not given all your treatment options.
I Have Fibroids, What’s Next?
If you are concerned about symptoms related to your reproductive health or periods, it’s crucial to consult a medical professional. Here are a few tips on charting and tracking symptoms.
Most of our patients discussed how they wanted more options, or that they were scared of invasive surgery. Over 200,000 hysterectomies are performed in the US each year for the treatment of uterine fibroids. Even more shocking, more than 20 percent of women thought hysterectomy was the only procedure for the treatment of fibroids. Unfortunately, this is common when talking to our patients of why they didn’t get treatment sooner. For some, having invasive surgery like hysterectomy might be the right course of action for them; however, many invasive surgeries are considered unnecessary. Not only can invasive surgeries affect a woman’s ability to have children in the future, but it can also interfere with their hormones and have other adverse reactions.
Due to the lack of awareness surrounding non-surgical options, women continued to live with their fibroid symptoms, avoiding treatment. More and more women are hearing about a non-surgical, outpatient treatment called Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE). In this procedure, an interventional radiologist will block the supply of blood to your fibroids. After the procedure, your fibroids begin to shrink and you should experience a decrease in bleeding during and between your periods soon after. The procedure allows women to recover in the comfort of their own home, instead of a hospital, which is a major benefit of non-surgical fibroid treatment.”
Thank you to USA Fibroid Centers for giving us this information about fibroids! If you’re based in the U.S. check out their website as they are located in 16 states from coast-to-coast. More information on this topic coming soon! To stay tuned, follow us on socials – @totmorganic.