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Understanding Calcified Fibroids

woman's stomach in pain from calcified fibroids

What is a calcified fibroid?

A calcified fibroid is when a fibroid has reached the final stage of degeneration, or cell death and calcium deposits develop on the remaining fibroid tissue. Fibroids are benign tumors that grow in or on the uterine walls. Each woman with fibroids has a unique experience including the rate of growth. When a fibroid grows quickly, it can become too large to be sustained by the blood vessel supplying it with the oxygen and nutrients necessary to keep the growth alive.

Fibroid degeneration is most common as a woman approaches menopause. The hormonal change often stimulates fibroid growth, leading to degeneration and the build up of calcium deposits.

When a woman’s fibroid(s) calcify, it indicated the end stages of degeneration and she may experience less pain or abnormal periods than during the growth and degeneration periods. When the calcified fibroid is large, it may put pressure on the bladder and bowel causing the need for frequent urination, incontinence issues, constipation, or diarrhea. A woman may also experience some pain or uncomfortable pressure in her lower abdomen or waist. If calcification occurs before menopause, the woman may experience increased or heavier flow during her period. Calcified fibroids can also cause complications in pregnancy including miscarriage, premature placenta detachment, or breech positioning.

How do I know if I have a calcified fibroid?

Calcified fibroids are usually diagnosed with a non-invasive ultrasound, MRI or CT scan. These are the same technologies used to diagnose normal fibroid tumors. Calcified uterine fibroids have a distinctive appearance on these reports, making it easy for the radiologist to recognize them and distinguish them from other tumors. In some cases, fibroid tumors that are only partly calcified may be discovered.

How are Calcified Fibroids Different from Uterine Fibroids?

Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous growths that grow within or in close proximity to the uterus. These benign tumors are made of muscular tissue and can be present without being detected at all. While there are definitive references and categories for the varying types of fibroids differentiating how they grow, etc. the cause of fibroids is not known and is generally attributed to hereditary factors, and estrogen levels.

Fibroids can vary in size, location and ability to grow. Some fibroids do not grow once formed and others can grow from being barely visible to becoming large and weighing many pounds. Some women do not experience any symptoms.

Calcified fibroids are different only because they typically have become larger than the blood supply that was attributed to the growth. Now that the blood supply has been compromised the tumor degenerates and may become smaller. In this process calcium is produced and leaves deposits on the mass. The fibroid is now calcified and has a somewhat grainy texture.

The treatment options for the calcified fibroid do not vary from the treatment modalities that were available to treat the fibroid prior to the calcification. A major factor in treatment is whether or not you want to bear children.

It is necessary to have a gynecologist who is aware of the modern approaches to calcified fibroid treatment as there have been many new additions to the course of symptom relief.

How are calcified fibroids treated?

There are a variety of treatments available for calcified fibroids. The first step in any treatment plan should be a thorough diagnostic assessment including a detailed conversation about the symptoms, a pelvic exam, and imaging tests, if necessary. The symptoms common to fibroids can also be caused by other conditions such as uterine polyps, polycystic ovary syndrome, or endometriosis. The treatments for each condition are different, so an accurate diagnosis is essential to effective treatment. Many doctors will suggest a conservative approach to treating fibroids including the use of over the counter NSAID painkillers or ibuprofen to address pain and cramping. Some women may also benefit from birth control pills to regulate their hormones or progesterone creams to provide relief from some of the discomfort associated with calcified fibroids.

In more severe cases, the doctor may recommend a myomectomy, which is the removal of the fibroid, or a hysterectomy if the fibroid is too large or embedded in the uterine wall. However, for many women, by the time a fibroid reaches the calcification stage, the worst of her symptoms are over and if the fibroid is not negatively affecting her fertility, some doctors may suggest doing nothing and waiting out.

What should I do if I have a calcified fibroid?

If you have a calcified fibroid, it is highly likely that you have experienced some painful symptoms including abnormal or heavy periods, severe cramping and abdominal pain, urinary issues, weight gain, and/or swelling in the lower waist. You may have already seen a doctor about these symptoms and are in a treatment plan. If you haven’t, make an appointment for diagnosis. The doctors at the Fibroid Treatment Center in Beverly Hill, California, are the leading fibroid specialists in the United States and offer thorough testing and treatment for women of all ages suffering from fibroids. They take women’s health and well-being seriously and have pioneered innovative treatments to shrink and remove fibroids, improving many women’s quality of life.

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