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What Are Uterine Fibroids and Should You Be Worried?

Fibroids are the most common form of pelvic tumors in women. While benign, (non-cancerous), they can have a negative impact on a woman’s health in many ways. Some of the symptoms include:

  • Abnormal periods
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Anemia
  • Pain
  • Bladder dysfunctions
  • Bowl dysfunctions
  • Fertility issues

Fibroids begin as ordinary muscle cells in the walls of the uterus. What causes normal uterine cells to begin forming fibroid tumors? Medical studies have linked estrogen levels to fibroid development. Interestingly, the exact cause for the condition is unknown. Added risk factors include:

  • Race
  • Age
  • Family history
  • Premenopausal state
  • Hypertension
  • Diet

Should You Worry?

Fibroids are very common. Most of the female population experience them at some point. In the U.S., under 70 percent of Caucasian women develop fibroids by age 50. In African-Americans, the number is closer to 80 percent. Most cases won’t exhibit any symptoms and are only detected during routine checkups. Most often found during gynecological or pregnancy exams. For the majority of women, a diagnosis of fibroid tumors may be unnerving. But will, in the end, be unnoticeable for a woman’s all-around health.

But.

In a percentage of cases, fibroids do begin to cause troublesome symptoms. Estimates are between 25% and 50% for these cases. When that happens, it’s wise to seek treatment as early as possible. Under the right conditions, fibroids can grow very fast. Fibroid symptoms usually worsen or multiply. Are your fibroid symptoms causing any of the following health issues?

  • Heavy bleeding
  • Blood-loss related anemia
  • Pain
  • Abdominal distension
  • Back pain
  • Frequent urination
  • Constipation

If you answered yes to any of the above, it is time to act. As with most medical issues, early detection and early treatment are important. The longer you wait, the longer you worry and suffer. Why do either?

Fibroid Treatment

Fibroid treatment today can be much simpler and less traumatic than it was in the past. Our grandmothers underwent a hysterectomy. Our mothers had aggressive fibroid surgeries. In the 21st century, we have less invasive options. Some, like fibroid embolization, don’t involve surgery at all. Fibroid embolization is a radiological treatment that shrinks fibroids. As opposed to removing the uterus or cutting out uterine tissue. It requires zero incisions and no hospital stay.

Is one of your worries that fibroid treatment means a lot of time away from work, family, or normal life? Take a long exhale. You can deal with fibroids. And it doesn’t have to mean surgery.

Learn more about recognizing fibroid symptoms.

Explore non-surgical treatment fibroid treatment.

See women who underwent successful fibroid treatment without surgery.

Uterine Fibroids and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome: Is There a Connection?

PCOS Polycystic ovary syndrome written in a notebook on white table

Uterine fibroids and Polycystic Ovaries are conditions that cause growths to form in female reproductive organs. Fibroids are benign, (not cancerous), tumors that spontaneously appear in the uterus. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome causes cysts, (also not cancerous), that suddenly occur in one or both ovaries.

Both conditions can disrupt menstrual cycles, cause pelvic pain and impair fertility. Both have been linked to hormone imbalances. So is there a connection between fibroids and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)?

What Causes Fibroids?

Fibroids are thought to be triggered by high levels of the female hormone, estrogen. When estrogen elevates, fibrous tumors often appear and grow in the uterus. The most likely time to discover fibroids? During pregnancy or just before menopause, when estrogen is spiking.

Probable Causes of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

PCOS occurs when an overproduction of hormones, called androgens, affect the ovary’s ability to develop and release eggs normally. The ovaries respond by developing cysts. The most likely time for PCOS is during a woman’s childbearing years, in her 20s and 30s.

Risk Factors for Fibroids

  • Elevated levels of estrogen and progesterone
  • Race (African American women have a higher incidence)
  • Fibroids in your family
  • Menstruation at an early age
  • Obesity

Risk Factors for PCOS

  • Elevated levels of androgens
  • Elevated levels of insulin
  • PCOS in your family

Are Women with One Condition, Likely to Develop the Other?

The medical consensus is that there is no connection between fibroids and PCOS. While both are influenced by hormone imbalances and can cause similar symptoms, they are separate medical issues and don’t appear to be related.

But a six-year study of 23,000 pre-menopausal African American women challenges this thinking. Boston University Slone Epidemiology Center examined the data and noted that the incidence of fibroids was 65% higher among women with PCOS, than those without. Why? One theory is that when androgens affect normal production and release of eggs, estrogen levels rise in response. And when estrogen rises, so does the incidence of fibroids.

Non-Invasive Fibroid Treatment

Are you experiencing abnormal periods, pelvic pain, or fertility issues? Fibroids or PCOS may be the cause. Get a medical assessment from Dr. McLucas when you contact the Fibroid Treatment Collective.

For information on how non-invasive fibroids treatment, learn more about embolization here.

Can Fibroids Cause Anemia?

Sick woman sleeping at home

Anemia occurs when the amount of blood the body loses is greater than its ability to replace lost blood cells. This condition is common for women who either experience heavy bleeding due to menstrual periods or have uterine fibroids. In many cases fibroids can be the cause of a heavier menstrual cycle and anemia. A type of fibroids known as submucosal fibroids (located within the uterine cavity); can enlarge the surface area of the endometrium (uterine lining) subsequently causing heavier periods. Fibroids can also contribute to disorders in hormone production, which causes contractions and relaxation of the muscles in the uterus, creating greater blood loss.

Fibroids and Anemia

For women who are suffering from fibroids and heavy menstrual bleeding, the loss of blood can also mean loss of hemoglobin, an iron-rich protein found in red blood cells. When iron begins to deplete from the blood, it can no longer carry oxygen. This is known as iron-deficiency anemia. This type of anemia often shows symptoms like shortness of breath, fatigue, dizziness, headaches, chest pain, and weakness because the blood cannot supply enough oxygen to the body’s organs and tissues. If left untreated, this can lead to severe problems such as pregnancy complications, irregular heartbeats, heart murmur, an enlarged heart, or even heart failure.

Fibroid Treatment Through Embolization

Put an end to the dangers of anemia by addressing fibroid symptoms with the help of effective treatment options. Embolization as well as hysterectomy or a myomectomy can provide women with relief from fibroids and the symptoms associated with them.

Embolization is unique because unlike surgical options, it does not cut, remove, or scar any uterine tissue and has a 90%+ success rate for symptom relief. If you believe the cause of your anemia may be due to fibroids, learn more about fibroid treatment by contacting us today at 1(888) 296-9422.

Can Fibroids Damage Your Kidneys?

Pain

Can Fibroids Damage Your Kidneys

Uterine fibroids are typically known for creating symptoms such as heavy menstrual bleeding and pelvic pain, however depending on location and size, they can also present less common problems. For a small percentage of women, fibroids can negatively affect the health of their kidneys.

Fibroids and Kidney Pain

Although fibroids are made of muscle tissue found in the uterus, they can outgrow the space within the uterine walls and expand to a size large enough to affect the ureter. The ureter is the tube that connects the bladder and the kidney. When fibroids down on the ureter, the kidneys swell and develop a condition known as hydronephrosis.

Hydronephrosis is often associated with painful urination, an increased urge to urinate, as well as flank and back pain. In more severe cases, permanent kidney damage may also occur. If you are currently experiencing any of these symptoms or suspect your kidneys may be at risk due to your fibroids, consult with your doctor immediately. Urine and blood tests can show whether your kidneys are functioning properly or at risk.

Fibroid Treatment

For those experiencing kidney complications due to fibroids, removal is essential to alleviate these symptoms. While fibroid surgery like a hysterectomy and myomectomy are commonly utilized, a less invasive procedure such as uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) gets the job done without the scars or trauma associated with surgery.

Fibroid embolization works by shrinking the enlarged fibroid that is pressing down on the ureter and affecting the kidneys. By shrinking the fibroid instead of removing it, patients experience a quick and effective procedure with no chance of fibroid regrowth. While the likelihood of uterine fibroids affecting your kidneys is extremely rare, taking the risk is never the answer. If you have noticed fibroid symptoms, learn more about living fibroid-free with embolization by contacting us at: (866) 479-1523.

Tips to Help Reduce Uterine Fibroid Pain

Reduce fibroids pain through several fibroid treatment options

As any woman who has ever suffered from uterine fibroids can tell you, they can be extremely painful. In addition to symptoms like the need to urinate frequently, constipation, heavy menstrual bleeding, or prolonged menstrual periods, fibroids often cause pelvic pressure or pain, backaches, and leg pains. Sometimes this fibroid pain can become acute.

Why are Uterine Fibroids Painful?

Uterine fibroids are benign (non-cancerous) tumors that develop on the walls or lining of the uterus, most often in women aged 40 – 50. Whether a fibroid is painful, and the severity of pain will depend on its location, size, and number of fibroids present. Fibroids can be painful for many reasons:

  • Sometimes fibroids become painful because they have outgrown their blood supply and begin to die. As the fibroid degenerates, its byproducts can cause abdominal pain.
  • Still other fibroids are painful because they are hanging by a stalk either inside or outside the uterus. These stalks can twist, cutting off the fibroids’ blood supply.
  • When fibroids are outside the uterus, they may press on your bladder, rectum or spinal nerves, causing abdominal pressure and backaches.
  • Fibroids inside your uterine walls can cause the shape of your uterus to become distorted, resulting in both pressure and pain.

Can Fibroids cause Abdominal Pain?

Yes, Fibroids can cause abdominal pain, but it is not the only reason.  Whether it is a mild stomach ache you are suffering from, or sharp pain and cramps, abdominal pain–as mentioned– has many causes. For instance, it might merely be indigestion or constipation. Or perhaps it is a stomach virus, or, if you are a woman, monthly menstrual cramps.

Doctors determine common causes of abdominal pain by relying on physical examinations or tests, the actual characteristics of the pain, and by surgical or endoscopic options.

Fibroid Pain Symptoms Vary

Fibroid pain may be mild or extreme, constant or just occasional. It can flare up during sexual intercourse, bowel movements, exercise, or your period. Pain often radiates down the leg. Discomfort may also result when an enlarged uterus puts pressure on adjacent organs, such as the bladder or bowel. A specific type of fibroid, called ‘pedunculated’, grows on a stalk and causes severe pain if the stalk is twisted.

The Short Term Solutions

Use a Heating Pad.

A heating pad can be a great short term relief to fibroid pain that is in the stomach, although it does not replace a more long term treatment. Fibroids cause inflammation that can completely immobilize a person, and heating the affected areas will increase mobility. This is especially important for your safety if you are driving by yourself, as some fibroid pains can be so intense as to be distracting. Invest in a mobile heating pad if you have a life that is on the go.

OTC Pills for Fibroid PainPick the Appropriate Over the Counter Drug.

Over the counter drugs may also give you some relief from fibroid symptoms in the short term. So called “silent but stable” fibroids that flare up intermittently can be a huge problem in the workplace, and a quick OTC will give you temporary relief until you can find a more permanent solution or at least get some privacy.

OTC drugs for fibroids may come with a vitamin D supplement or as an extract of a natural plant. If you need something stronger, do not proceed until you have consulted with your doctor.

Take Stock of Other Pills You Are Taking.

If you have fibroids with no symptoms, you may not even find out about your own condition until you begin taking a birth control pill or another kind of conflicting medication. If you find that your fibroids flare up after you take another pill, even if it is just a dietary supplement, then stop that regimen immediately and go see your doctor.

Consider Fibroid Embolization.

Fibroid embolization is a minimally invasive procedure that is conducted by an experienced physician to get rid of the main source of fibroid pain. It does require incisions, but they are small, and there is usually only one required. You will recover much more quickly and have many less side effects and pain from this treatment than from some of the more serious treatments that you may incur if your situation goes untreated for a long time.

Embolization may sometimes be used in the place of a hysterectomy, and studies have shown that just under 90 percent of women experience at least a small amount of relief after the procedure. Embolization helps to reduce the size of fibroids in the body, and the symptoms of fibroids are almost always reduced after the embolization procedure.

The Long Term Solutions

Yoga to Reduce Fibroid PainReduce the Stress in Your Life.

Studies have shown that people who are under more stress are more likely to develop fibroids. Although stress reduction is a long term solution that takes a certain period of time in order to notice physically, you will reduce the overall prevalence of fibroids in your life from this lifestyle change. You will also gradually reduce the symptoms of your fibroids in the present through a healthier lifestyle. You will have less of a use for over the counter solutions and relieve yourself of the side effects of those drugs as well.

Increase Your Vitamin D Intake.

One of the main reasons that African American women are three times more likely to develop fibroids than white women is because of the genetic predisposition towards less natural vitamin D production in the body. Take a vitamin D supplement every day if recommended by your doctor.

Determine Your Fibroid Type.

There are different treatment measures available for uterine fibroids versus calcified fibroids. The tip bellow this (Visit Your Doctor Regularly), although it may seem like a no brainer, will help you with this tip and speed up your overall treatment program exponentially. For instance, if you have a degenerating fibroid, you may require surgery, and it is better to know this earlier rather than later.

Visit Your Doctor Regularly.

Many women have worse problems than they deserve with fibroids because they do not visit the doctor on a regular basis. Only a practiced physician will be able to give you a regulated schedule that is sure to reduce your short term symptoms and better your long term condition. Before you assume that your doctor cannot help you, remember that you have only dealt directly with one case of fibroids: yours. Your doctor has dealt with many cases of fibroids from the many patients that he or she has seen.

Do not give up on your doctor just because the first treatment does not work. Cases of fibroids are different in each person, and it may take a few experiments in order to determine the right mix of treatments. One thing is for sure: You will find the right solution more quickly with a doctor than you would on your own.

There are many ways to deal with fibroids, so choose the method that best fits into your lifestyle. Use the methods above to reduce pain and increase your day to day productivity until you eventually get rid of the problem altogether.

When You are Sick of Living with Uterine Fibroid Pain

Managing the symptoms of your fibroids may work for a time, but for many women, such short-term approaches are not realistic long-term solutions. When it’s time to deal with the fibroid pain once and for all, you have several fibroid treatment options, including:

Non-surgical Fibroid Embolization

Embolization is a popular non-surgical option for dealing with all types of fibroids, whether they are located inside or outside of the uterus. Essentially, embolization deals with uterine fibroids by shutting down their oxygen supply so they shrink.

After the procedure, fibroids begin to shrink immediately and any heavy bleeding is stopped soon after. Embolization also keeps new fibroids from forming after the procedure, which is a major benefit. Embolization is also a popular choice among women who wish to conceive in the future, as the procedure does not affect fertility.

The overall success rate of fibroid embolization is 94%. In fact, the Fibroid Treatment Collective actually performed the very first non-surgical fibroid embolization in the United States in 1994 and has treated thousands of women with embolization since then.

Hysterectomy

When you undergo a hysterectomy, your uterus is removed from your body. In a total hysterectomy, the entire uterine system is removed. Sometimes, a patient and her doctor may choose to remove the uterus but leave the cervix in place, which is known as a sub-total hysterectomy.

Although hysterectomies are used to treat many conditions, uterine fibroids are the most common reason for the surgery, accounting for up to half of all hysterectomies.

A hysterectomy will permanently remove uterine fibroids because the uterus itself has been removed.

Women who have hysterectomies can no longer bear children.

Most hysterectomies are performed as abdominal surgeries, although some may be handled vaginally. Regardless of how the surgery is performed, a hysterectomy is a major surgical operation requiring a lengthy recovery time, so it is important to fully understand the potential risks and benefits before deciding to go this route.

Myomectomy

A myomectomy is also a surgical procedure designed to remove fibroids from the uterus. This type of procedure may be done abdominally, laproscopically, or hysteroscopically (vaginally.)

Unlike a hysterectomy, in which the uterus is removed, a myomectomy only removes the fibroid tumors themselves. This is good news for women who want to be able to conceive after the removal of their uterine fibroids, however there are some side effects to this type of procedure that may make it a less attractive option for women in their child-bearing years.

Although the uterus itself is not removed, a myomectomy procedure can cause uterine scarring that can affect fertility. Women may also experience problems with loss of blood, especially when large fibroids are removed.

Uterine fibroids can re-develop after a myomectomy, with a regrowth potential of 30% or more, depending on a woman’s age.

Conclusion

Not everyone is a candidate for embolization, hysterectomy or myomectomy, and just as with any medical procedure, there are potential side effects with each of these options. Discuss your symptoms and the pros and cons of each possible treatment option with your doctor before making a decision on fibroid treatment.

To find out if a non-surgical fibroid embolization, a hysterectomy or a myomectomy is right for you, contact us today online, or call the Fibroid Treatment Collective at (866) 479-1523.

Fibroid Symptoms

I seem to be having some of the symptoms of fibroids, but I’m not sure if they are really fibroids. How can I know for sure?

If you feel that you may have symptoms related to the presence of fibroids, visit your gynecologist (see Fibroid Symptoms). A fibroid is usually discovered during a pelvic examination. Many times, however, fibroids are only discovered while a physician is looking for something else—or simply are not discovered at all. If you feel that your symptoms may be due to the fibroids, it would be a good idea to see your gynecologist and notify him or her of your concerns.

Ultrasound scanning enables physicians to distinguish these tumors. This diagnostic procedure can confirm the presence of fibroids when a woman has symptoms that raise suspicion of the tumors. However, because certain types of fibroids look similar to ovarian tumors, and the fibrous tissue can interfere with the sound waves, the ultrasound reading can be inaccurate.  In this case, physicians may sometimes suggest a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).  An MRI is a standard imaging technique for evaluating fibroids because it provides a clearer image than ultrasound and can detect other causes of pelvic pain and/or bleeding you may be experiencing.

If you feel that you are experiencing fibroid-related symptoms and would like to learn about what steps you can take to find out if the fibroid actually exists, please feel free to contact the Fibroid Treatment Collective at 866-362-6463 or request a free phone consultation.  We are always more than happy to provide you with useful resources and help you make positive choices for your health!

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