Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous growths or fibroid cysts along the wall of your uterus. They may have no symptoms or they can cause pain. A swollen uterus — its size (normal uterus vs. not) — points to a medical problem. There’s a connection between uterine fibroid and pregnancy: fibroids can cause infertility. One uterine fibroid treatment, called uterine fibroid embolization, causes uterine fibroid shrinking.
Uterine fibroids are muscular tumors that grow inside or on the outside of your uterus. They grow in your uterus, in the uterine wall, on the surface, or on stalk-like structures inside or outside your uterus. They’re usually benign, meaning they are not cancerous, and women who have them are not more susceptible to cancer. Fibroids can vary tremendously in size, location and shape. Many women never realize they have them, as fibroids often are asymptomatic.
Fibroids usually show up during your childbearing years, but they can appear at any time. Heredity and hormones seem to be the greatest determining factor, with African American women more susceptible. Estrogen and progesterone seem to affect the growth of fibroids. One theory states that a single stem cell in the smooth muscular tissue of the uterus might begin dividing rapidly to produce these growths.
Facts about Uterine Fibroids
Some fibroids grow slowly, some quickly, and some remain the same size for long periods of time. Some fibroid cysts go through growth spurts and some eventually shrink on their own. Uterine fibroid shrinking is not all that uncommon, especially in women with menopause. Uterine fibroids cause pain because they place pressure on the surrounding organs. If they grow large enough to cause a swollen uterus, they can be very uncomfortable.
On occasion, your fibroids outgrow their blood supply and begin to die, which is also quite painful. You should see your doctor if any of the symptoms listed below become suddenly worse or debilitating.
Symptoms of Fibroid Cysts
The uterine fibroid and pregnancy don’t mix well, but it’s not a direct correlation. The presence of fibroids themselves is not necessarily associated with infertility, but if they’re located along the inner uterine wall, it may make it difficult for a fertilized egg to attach. In rare instances, the fibroids may block the fallopian tubes. Other symptoms of fibroid cysts, if present, include:
- Pain during sex
- Miscarriages or infertility
- Back ache or leg pains
- Needing to urinate often or having trouble emptying your bladder
- Heavy flow or pain during periods
- Bleeding between periods
- Pressure, pain, or fullness in your stomach
- Significant changes in your uterus size (normal uterus vs. not)
Among the complications caused by the presence of a uterine fibroid and pregnancy are placental abruption, fetal growth restriction, preterm labor and pelvic pain and heavy bleeding after delivery that requires surgery.
Diagnosing Uterine Fibroids
Your Forest Hills, New York gynecologist follows a standard set of exams to determine the kind and severity of your fibroids. These tests may consist of:
- Pelvic exam
- Lab tests
- An MRI
- Hysterosonography, which is a saline infusion in your uterus to better use the sonogram
- Hysterosalpingography, for which a dye used to highlight your uterine cavity and fallopian tubes for an X-ray
- Hysteroscopy, which uses a lighted telescope and saline solution, entering in through your vagina, past your cervix and into your uterus
After determining the kind, location, and size of the uterine fibroids in or on your uterus, treatment options can be determined. Your doctor discusses all the methods available before you settle on a treatment plan.
Uterine Fibroid Treatment
If your symptoms are manageable, there may be a watch-and-wait period. If you have fertility issues, your doctor may check to see if the size of your uterus is changed from normal to swollen. A swollen uterus is the sign of uterine fibroids. If your symptoms become severe enough to affect your daily routine, you and your Forest Hills, New York gynecologist may choose to follow some of these uterine fibroid treatments:
- Mild to moderate pain can usually be treated with acetaminophen, ibuprofen or naproxen.
- Oral contraceptives can help to manage your hormone levels, as well as lighten your periods and alleviate your symptoms.
- Progestin injections or progestin-releasing IUDs may be prescribed for symptom relief.
- Your doctor may provide gonadotropin-releasing hormones, but since they place your body into a menopausal state, the complications of bone loss, hot flashes, and vaginal dryness should be considered. This step may be a method for uterine fibroid shrinking before surgery.
- You can take tranexamic acid (Lysteda), a non-hormonal medicine, on heavy bleeding days.
- Uterine fibroid embolization is a surgery used for mild-to-moderate symptoms not controlled by medications. Your gynecologist guides a catheter into the uterine artery feeding a fibroid cyst and particles of plastic or gelatin are released into the blood vessel, eventually causing uterine fibroid shrinking.
- An MRI-guided ultrasound is a noninvasive method for killing fibroid tissue with ultrasound waves. This uterine fibroid treatment carries no risk of damaging your uterus, and you can expect a quick recovery time.
- Myolysis or cryomyolysis is a procedure involving heat, laser or cold to destroy the fibroid tumors or their blood supply.
- More radical uterine fibroid treatments include surgeries such as myomectomy, hysterectomy, or endometrial ablation.
Uterine fibroid embolization, MRI-guided ultrasound, hysterectomy, and endometrial ablation are all uterine fibroid treatments that should not be used if you wish to become pregnant in the future. Your Forest Hills, New York gynecologist may suggest one of the surgical routes if your symptoms aren’t controlled by the medications, if fertility is an issue, or if you are unable to take the medicines for treatment.
A Quick Word about Prevention
Although doctors and researchers aren’t exactly sure what causes these uterine fibroids, a few preventive techniques seem to help. These include regular exercise, a high vegetable and fruit diet with low sugar, reduction or cessation of tobacco and alcohol, and consuming high-iron foods, as anemia can be a concern with heavy bleeding.
Your Forest Hills, New York gynecologist can discuss all your options with you when you come in for an appointment. Find out what will work best for your medical and lifestyle needs.
As a best in class Queens gynecologist, Dr. James Gohar provides highly personalized and comprehensive care. His philosophy regarding the doctor/patient relationship is based on trust and has earned him one of the most respected reputations in Queens NY.
For more information about the uterine fibroids treatment options or to schedule a consultation with the (gynecologist) OBGYN doctor, the best rated uterine fibroids treatment specialist, Dr. James Gohar, please contact our Queens office.
Gynecologist Dr. James Gohar (OBGYN Doctor)
Forest Hills Medical Services
108-16 63rd Rd
Forest Hills, NY 11375
☎ (718) 897-5331