Greetings, GIC Insiders! Since fibroids are such a big portion of our practice, we thought it would be a great idea to start the year with an overview. What are fibroids, and how do I know if I have them?
Uterine fibroids are benign growths in the uterus, or womb. Remember, they are VERY RARELY cancer.
Although the cause of fibroids is unclear, approximately 50% of African-American women and up to 30% of Caucasian women suffer from uterine fibroids. Up to 70% of women will have a least 1 fibroid by the time she is 50.
Uterine fibroids tend to run in families. Ask your mother, sister, cousin or any close female relative WHY she had to have that hysterectomy. It may actually be fibroids.
What are fibroid symptoms? Signs and symptoms of fibroids can include very heavy periods, pelvic pain, feeling a mass in the lower abdomen, even infertility. So if you've been trying to have a baby for some time, make sure to ask about fibroids.
Types of fibroids are:
Subserosal: immediately under the skin of the uterus
Submucosal: Inside the cavity of the uterus
Intramural: Inside the muscle of the uterus
Pedunculated: hanging off the uterus
How are fibroids diagnosed?
Fibroids may be diagnosed with a routine pelvic exam. Usually, an ultrasound of the pelvis will confirm these suspicions. MRI can be helpful if you have multiple tumors. Other tests and treatments include hysteroscopy, using a lighted camera to see inside the uterus and remove fibroids or laparoscopy, using a camera to visualize the pelvic cavity. Small to medium sized fibroids can be removed this way.
Every 30 minutes, 12 hysterectomies are performed in the United States. According to a report published by Obstetrics and Gynecology, 9 of them may not have met the guidelines set out by the American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists for hysterectomy.
There are approximately 350,000 hysterectomies performed annually in the United States with about 170,000 -280,000 due to uterine fibroids.
What therapies are available for fibroids?
The Acessa procedure, a specialized treatment for fibroids, offers an effective, reliable treatment for symptoms such as heavy periods, pelvic and back pain, pressure, and sometimes urinary symptoms while keeping a woman's uterus intact. So don't wait on your fibroids until they are so big that you need a big cut on your uterus.
Hysteroscopic removal if you have a fibroid confined to the inside of the uterus
Laparoscopic removal if you have small to medium sized fibroids
Abdominal myomectomy if you have larger tumors
Medications, such as TXA, oral contraceptives, GnRH Antagonists (hormone modifiers) such as Myfembree or Oriahnn.
Progesterone containing IUD
Injectables such as Lupron or Depo Provera.
Herbals such as DIM, Black strap molasses, and Chasteberry may help control symptoms, but keep in mind they may not actually treat the fibroid itself. Remember, we have done myriad clinical studies on the medications we offer and have found them to be both SAFE and EFFECTIVE for treatment. Alternative medicines may only delay the inevitable.
These have all been used with varying degrees of efficacy to treat the symptoms of fibroids, therefore avoiding surgery.
What we have found NOT to work? Vegetarian or veganism. Gluten-free. Vaginal steaming, vinegar douching, etc.
Remember, we're here for YOUR health. If you think you have fibroids, schedule an ultrasound with us ASAP. Don't wait! The longer you wait, all that fibroid is doing is...
Yours in Health,
Dr. Nicole E. Williams