Although not life-threatening, uterine fibroids can cause you some uncomfortable symptoms, from bladder issues to anemia. While there is a range of fibroid treatments, your Brooklyn gynecologist often takes a conservative approach, as fibroids can shrink and disappear on their own. But if you’re bothered by a heavy menstrual flow or pelvic pain, visit Century Medical and Dental Center for effective care.
Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous growths in the uterus that appear during childbearing years. Also called myomas or leiomyomas, fibroids are not cysts, as cysts are usually filled with fluid, while fibroids are dense muscle or tissue. Fibroids range in size from tiny and seed-like to bulky masses that cause a swollen uterus. You may have one or many, but uterine fibroids rarely grow so large that they press against your rib cage.
Your top rated Brooklyn gynecologist at Century Medical and Dental Center may surprise you with a diagnosis of uterine fibroids, as you may not have any symptoms. It usually happens during a routine pelvic exam. Small fibroids often exhibit little or no symptoms. If these growths occur in specific locations, bind tissue near nerves or grow larger, then they may start bothering you by:
- Lengthening the duration of your periods
- Increasing the amount of blood, until you have very heavy flow
- Giving you a frequent urge to urinate
- Possibly making you feel like you can’t fully empty your bladder
- Causing pain in your back and legs
- Creating pressure and pain in your pelvic region
- Giving you constipation from the internal pressure
- Causing anemia as a result of the heavy menstrual bleeding
Possible Causes for Developing Uterine Fibroids
Uterine fibroids differ significantly from woman to woman. Some fibroids grow slowly and remain persistent. Some grow and then shrink. In some women, fibroids grow rapidly, triggering accompanying complications such as pain, a swollen uterus or anemia.
While the exact cause of uterine fibroids isn’t known at this time, experienced gynecologists in Brooklyn often notice similar conditions in those affected, including:
- Hormonal changes, especially during pregnancy, increase progesterone and estrogen. Uterine fibroids contain more receptors for these hormones than the rest of the uterus.
- Insulin-like growth factors help the body maintain tissues, but may also contribute to fibroid growth.
- Individuals of African descent have more fibroids and at a younger age than women of other racial backgrounds.
- A family history of fibroids usually increases the risk that you will get them.
- An early onset of menstruation is typical in women who get uterine fibroids.
- Those fighting weight gain and obesity are more prone to fibroid growth.
- Those with a diet high in red meat and who consume excess amounts of alcohol are also susceptible to fibroid growth.
Treating a Swollen Uterus
Your gynecologist usually finds uterine fibroids through a pelvic exam, ultrasound and blood tests. Your treatment depends on the size of the fibroids and your symptoms. Make sure to tell your doctor about any previous incidents of fibroids or related diagnoses, as well as your desire to be able to conceive, as some procedures eliminate this possibility. Treatment, from least invasive to most, includes:
- A watchful, wait-and-see approach is appropriate for those with little or no symptoms. Fibroids aren’t cancerous and don’t usually interfere with pregnancy. Many shrink on their own, especially after menopause.
- Certain medications that target your hormone levels work well when dealing with the symptoms of uterine fibroids that affect your life. Effective medications include a progestin-releasing intrauterine device (IUD), gonadotropin-releasing hormones and oral contraceptives that control bleeding.
- Non-hormonal medications, such as tranexamic acid, taken on heavy blood flow days help reduce bleeding concerns.
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs control pain and inflammation associated with fibroid symptoms.
- A non-invasive approach called MRI-guided focused ultrasound (FUD) uses an MRI to send high-energy ultrasound waves to the precise location of the fibroids, destroying their tissue with heat in a safe, outpatient procedure.
- Minimally invasive techniques — such as laparoscopic removal of the fibroids, an excision using electric current, laser-targeted surgery, uterine artery embolization and endometrial ablation —all prove effective in certain cases. Endometrial ablation, which destroys the lining of the uterus, shouldn’t be used if you still desire a future pregnancy.
- Some surgical options, such as an abdominal myomectomy, remove multiple fibroids at once.
- A hysterectomy provides a permanent solution by removing the uterus. But a hysterectomy also ends your ability to have children.
Any surgery carries risk, including excessive bleeding, infection or the spread of undiagnosed cancer cells. By visiting the specialists at Century Medical and Dental Center, you’re assured of the best possible care. These highly trained Brooklyn gynecologists have years of experience performing these and other surgeries.
Complications of Treating Fibroids
Some procedures only treat fibroids present at the time of treatment, so you may still have recurring fibroids later from tiny growths your doctor can’t see. It pays to know what to look for in the future, so you can be ready to call on your Brooklyn doctor of medicine. While uterine fibroids usually aren’t dangerous, the resulting symptoms may make life uncomfortable.
Don’t let uterine fibroids get out of hand. If you’re feeling any symptoms contact the caring professionals at Century Medical and Dental Center. Don’t take chances with your uterus, especially if you still want to have children.