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What is the Best Treatment for Fibroids?

best treatment for fibroids

The best treatment for fibroids depends entirely on you. Your fibroid symptoms, you’re age, if you’re far away or close to menopause. Whether you want children. How much time you can spare for recovery. Many factors go into choosing the best treatment for fibroids.

Do Nothing

If you have fibroids that aren’t causing symptoms, your doctor may recommend a ‘wait and see’ approach. Just be sure you undergo regular exams and imaging studies. Fibroids can grow quickly and cause significant health issues. They might seem dormant, but do not ignore them.

Hold out for Menopause

If you’re older and your symptoms aren’t terrible, you might consider toughing it out. Decreasing estrogen levels are associated with a decrease in fibroid activity. But be aware that the time before menopause (peri-menopause) can mean wildly swinging hormone levels. The same estrogen highs and lows that contribute to hot flashes and night sweats also contribute to fibroid development, so symptoms could get worse before they get better. If you take estrogen replacement, (bioidentical or otherwise), to minimize menopause discomfort, expect an increase in fibroid growth. If you are overweight, fibroid-related problems could continue long after your periods stop. Fat cells produce an estrogen-like substance that encourages fibroids.

Medical Therapy

Fibroid issues like excessive bleeding or pelvic pain may be temporarily eased by medications to regulate your menstrual cycle. Medical therapy won’t eliminate the problem, but by lowering estrogen levels (fibroids thrive when estrogen elevates), they can soften the symptoms. There are many types of medical therapy, but all involve taking artificial hormones. How you feel about that, and any of the potential side effects, may or may not make this line of treatment appropriate.

Hysterectomy

Hysterectomy is a commonly recommended option for women with symptomatic fibroids. Surgical removal of the uterus ends all problems with uterine fibroids. Obviously, this treatment isn’t optimal if you want children. Or would prefer to keep your uterus right where it is. A hysterectomy is major surgery. Even when done laparoscopically, (through the vagina with a small incision, rather than a larger abdominal incision), recovery time is lengthy. And often painful.

Surgical Intervention

Surgeries to remove fibroids from the uterus either by cutting, scraping or ablation (heating tissue to a temperature that kills it) is helpful for younger fibroid patients. Especially those who intend to become pregnant. These surgeries tend to be multiple. Additionally, it can be easy to miss smaller fibroids or fibroids deeper in the uterine wall. They will keep growing. Surgical removal as a fibroid treatment or an assist in fibroid-related fertility issues is usually a short-term solution. When fibroids return, so does the need for more surgery.

Fibroid Embolization

Fibroid embolization is a non-surgical procedure that selectively blocks blood vessels. Originally used to stop excessive bleeding during uterine surgery or during birth, embolization proved an excellent approach to fibroid treatment. Without a blood supply, fibroids shrink and fibroid-related symptoms end. Uterine health and function aren’t impaired by invasive tissue removal. Recovery is short, and you experience no surgical discomfort. Embolization is a medically recognized and approved treatment for fibroids. (Your doctor, however, may not know about it.)

What is the best treatment for fibroids? Discuss all the options with your physician. Then consider asking the following questions:

  • Will this approach give me permanent relief?
  • How does it affect my ability to have children?
  • How long will I be away from work, family, normal activities?
  • What are the side effects?
  • Am I likely to have to repeat this type of treatment?

 Here at the Fibroid Treatment Collective, we offer free consultations in-office or over the phone. Feel free to contact us for more information. To learn more about fibroids, visit our homepage. 

 

 

 

Sources

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/no-best-treatment-for-common-uterine-fibroids-201504237918
http://obgyn.ucla.edu/medical-therapy

Where and Why do Fibroids Grow?

Where do Fibroids Grow?

Fibroids are benign/non-cancerous tumors associated with the uterus. They are made up of dense, fibrous tissue, which is where the term ‘fibroids’ comes from. Fibroids can appear at almost any time after puberty. However, fibroids are most likely to be diagnosed during pregnancy or perimenopause. To learn more about non-surgical fibroid treatment, reach out to the Fibroid Treatment Collective.

Fibroids are also very vascular. ‘Vascular’ is a medical term that means a strong and well-developed blood vessel system to carry oxygen and nutrients to living tissue. The fact that fibroids are vascular means that surgically removing is often bloody and debilitating. It’s also the reason most repeat fibroid surgeries. Fibroids are like weeds. Leave behind any roots (the fibroid-feeding blood vessels) and they usually grow back.

 

Where do Fibroids Grow?

Submucosal fibroids grow inside the uterine cavity. This is the space where a growing baby lives. Fibroids here can cause very heavy menstrual bleeding, fertility problems, and issues with carrying or delivering a child. Large fibroids in this area can also enlarge the uterus to resemble extreme weight gain or a pregnancy-type belly.

Intramural fibroids grow within the muscular wall of the uterus. This is the muscular area that contracts when giving birth. Fibroids growing in this area can cause pelvic pain, abnormal menstrual cycles, and uncomfortable pressure. A uterine wall full of fibroids often means intense and frequent cramping.

Subserosal fibroids grow on the outside wall of the uterus. This produces fibroid symptoms like back pain and bladder pressure as growing fibroids press on nerve endings and/or other organs in the body.

Pedunculated fibroids describe fibroids that grow on stalks, like mushrooms. They can emerge from either the inside or outside uterine walls. A twisted or impeded stalk will cause severe pelvic pain.

Why are Fibroids Growing in my Uterus?

Although certain factors are associated with fibroid development, there is no clearly defined ‘cause’. The condition is extremely common. 1-4 women over age 40 have fibroids. But fibroids are also found in younger women (usually during pregnancy). And more and more women in their 30’s, who aren’t pregnant and don’t fit a classic ‘fibroid-prone’ profile, seem to be experiencing the condition.

So what’s really going on here? Medical studies have already linked fibroid development to a surge in estrogen levels. Estrogen spikes, such as in pregnancy or peri-menopause, tend to be high-fibroid times. But fibroids are also occurring in young women who aren’t pregnant. In post-menopausal woman, where estrogen levels should be fairly low. And in mid-30’s women, who traditionally aren’t considered at-risk for this condition.

What else could be influencing fibroid development?

Common Risk Factors for Fibroids

Heredity. Be aware if your mother had fibroids or grandmother had fibroids. Do your aunts, sisters or other female relatives have fibroids? There’s a very good chance you will too. There hasn’t been a gene isolated or associated with fibroid development. And not much information in terms of tracking studies. But clinical evidence noted by OB/GYNs on this subject suggests that fibroids run in families.

Ethnicity. African American women are the ethnic group most likely to have fibroids. Women of Asian descent are the least likely. No one knows why. While fibroids appear in women of all races, statistical evidence points to ethnicity as an influencer.

Diet. You’ve probably heard that eliminating red meat helps. Also soy-based products. Also certain estrogen-rich foods, like yams. Hormones that occur naturally (and not so naturally) are plentiful in our food supply. While no concrete link has been established, there is a reason to believe diet may contribute to the appearance of fibroids.

Weight-gain. It’s a fact that fat cells in the body secrete substances that mimic estrogen. Being overweight might explain why younger women, who aren’t usually aren’t considered at risk for fibroids, still develop them. And why post-menopausal women, whose hormone levels should be low, are facing fibroid problems.

I Have Fibroids. Now what?

You’re not alone and you do have options. Non-surgical fibroid treatment has positively progressed in the past few decades. Surgery is no longer the only choice. Educate yourself about the various and very different ways to end a fibroid issue. Your health and your happiness deserve it!

Non-Surgical Fibroid Treatment

Learn how fibroid embolization has helped countless women take back control in their lives.

 

Does Fibroid Embolization Affect Your Ability to Have a Baby?

Shot of a mother holding up her baby daughter

A recent U.S. study, along with patient experiences around the world, support that Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) is a safe and appropriate treatment for women of childbearing age. Additionally, UFE can have distinct advantages over fibroid surgeries, such as a myomectomy, for fibroid patients who wish to get pregnant.

“Uterine Fibroid Embolization isn’t for women who want babies” – Fact or Fiction?

Early research on UFE, (research now nearly 20 years old), suggested it diminished the ovarian reserve. Ovarian reserve is a medical term for how many good quality eggs you have to make babies. But the average age of women in the study groups was 45. An age when ovarian reserve is already naturally declining. Fertility is already problematic. The assumption that UFE negatively impacts fertility was based on data from women whose fertility was already negatively affected, due to their age. The findings were fiction.

Patient experience and recent medical information are confirming this. As more and more women discovered UFE as a non-surgical treatment option, more and more women chose it. Many went on to have successful pregnancies and many who experienced fibroid-related fertility issues, conceived. Many, of an age to have a suitable ovarian reserve, had babies.
It was time for a re-think about UFE and fertility. It was time for a new study.

A Landmark UFE & Fertility Study

Minimally Invasive Therapy and Technology, a medical journal known for articles on cutting edge, non-surgical advances, published a study by Dr. Bruce McLucas, that investigated the ovarian reserves in fibroid patients after embolization. The study tracked and tested a group of 89 women, between the ages of 23 and 40, for four years after their UFE procedures. The resulting data indicated UFE did not diminish ovarian reserve. UFE did not impair fertility. In fact, 32 of the 89 patients actually had a rise in ovarian reserve, post-procedure.

A Few Other Interesting Facts the Study Revealed

Fact #1: The ability for the uterus to function normally for conception, pregnancy, and delivery is not impaired by UFE.

Fact #2: Fertility in women of normal childbearing age is preserved and even enhanced by UFE when infertility issues are being caused by fibroids.

Fact #3: Ovarian reserve levels, which naturally decline as a woman ages, are not further diminished by UFE.

For Women Who Want Children, But Also Want Time to Decide

Myomectomy, a common surgery to remove fibroids from the uterus, has roughly a six-month window of opportunity for pregnancy. Fibroids tend to grow back after myomectomy. 50% of all myomectomy patients will experience fibroid recurrence within a year. Which means the time to try for a child after a myomectomy can be short. Uterine Fibroid Embolization has 0% incidence of fibroid regrowth. The possibility for pregnancy after UFE is only bound by the normal decline of ovarian reserves as you age.

Read about the landmark UFE & Fertility study here.

Testimonials about pregnancy after UFE here and here and here.

 

How Can Fibroids Affect Your Pregnancy?

Beautiful pregnant woman at home.

The presence of fibroids commonly begins during a woman’s childbearing years. For women who are planning for a pregnancy and have fibroids, it is vital to be regularly monitored by your OB/GYN for any signs of growth, so can fibroids affect pregnancy? Fortunately, in most instances, fibroids do not negatively interfere during a pregnancy. However, depending on the size of a fibroid and location within the uterus, complications may arise. No one wants to undergo fibroid treatment while pregnant, which is why it is essential to discuss fibroid treatment as early as possible.

Fibroid Treatment Before Conception

Research suggests that fibroids that alter the shape of the uterine cavity “may reduce fertility as much as 70%.” For women who are considering becoming pregnant and have fibroids, shrinking them may be recommended to improve chances of conception. Fibroids may prevent the sperm and egg from meeting, as well as hinder an embryo’s ability to implant.

One surgical option for fibroid treatment is a myomectomy, which cuts out existing fibroids. While it does remove fibroids, this procedure may result in uterus scarring and present problems for successful embryo implantation. Other drawbacks include a 50% chance of fibroids returning within a 10-month period if any of its cells are left behind during the surgery, as well as a weakening of uterine walls, which can compromise a successful pregnancy.

If you are planning for a pregnancy, the shrinking of fibroids beforehand can be a key component in protecting the welfare and health of the fetus so you can avoid fibroid treatment while pregnant. Uterine Fibroid Embolization offers a non-invasive solution that does not involve cutting, scarring, or fibroid recurrence. Embolization is a non-surgical procedure that focuses only on fibroids, meaning reproductive organs and tissues are left entirely undisturbed and functional to help ensure a healthier pregnancy.

How Fibroids Affect Pregnancy

During pregnancy, hormones in the body cause the uterus to grow and accommodate for the fetus, and in some cases, this massive influx of hormones may also cause fibroids to enlarge creating issues both during pregnancy and delivery. Some fibroids will grow large enough to take much-needed blood supply from the fetus or take up too much room in the uterus, which can result in a miscarriage.

Other consequences that fibroids inflict on pregnancy include acute abdominal pain and in some instances, bleeding if the placenta is near the fibroid. In late pregnancy, women with fibroids are more at risk to develop preterm labor. This can lead to a preterm delivery, which may cause certain developmental deficiencies in childhood.

If the pregnancy goes smoothly despite the presence of fibroids, there can also be challenges during delivery. Fibroids may cause the baby to lie in breech, transverse positions, or block the progress of labor and expulsion of the placenta. In these cases, your doctor may recommend a Cesarean section to avoid further problems.

If you are planning on becoming pregnant, it is important to take these concerns and solutions into consideration. Left untreated, fibroids can potentially damage your chances of conception, the childbearing process, and the delivery of a healthy baby. Uterine Fibroid Embolization provides a safe and effective solution to shrinking fibroids and promoting a healthy pregnancy.

To see the many women who have benefited from the embolization, take a look at our list of patients who now have children. For more information on pregnancy and fibroids get in touch with us today at (866) 479-1523.

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