Women have more intricate reproductive systems than men, it is more complex with many parts (cervix, vagina, uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes) not to mention the cyclic effects that occur during menstruation.
When women experience symptoms surrounding their reproductive system it is hard to pinpoint the cause because many conditions present with similar symptoms. One of the most common conditions that women can experience is uterine fibroids.
If you experience heavy periods or breakthrough bleeding, abnormal bleeding from the vagina, pain, or discomfort during sex, difficulty urinating, or have had several urinary tract infections you may have a type of uterine fibroid known as cervical fibroids also called cervical myomas.
What Is The Difference Between A Uterine Fibroid and A Cervical Fibroid?
Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous growths or tumors that grow in, on, or around the uterus. They are made from the same type of muscular tissue as the uterine wall and can grow implanted into the uterus or attached to the uterus by a small stem or stalk (pedunculated)
Some fibroids do not create any symptoms but others can cause many painful symptoms that disrupt a woman’s life.
Fibroids are categorized by their location and the most well-known fibroids include:
- Intramural fibroids grow inside the muscular walls of the uterus;
- Subserosal fibroids grow on the outside of the uterus;
- Submucosal fibroids grow into the cavity of the uterus.
What Is A Cervical Fibroid?
Fibroids in the cervical canal or growing near the cervical canal are categorized as cervical myomas (cervical fibroids).
They are made from the same muscular-like tissue as fibroids that grow in the uterus but cervical fibroids grow in the lower portion of the uterus in the cervical canal and on the cervix.
Cervical myomas are very rare and only 1-4% of women with fibroids experience them. Usually, when a woman is diagnosed with a cervical fibroid she also has fibroids elsewhere in the uterus.
What Are The Symptoms Of Cervical Fibroids?
Cervical fibroid symptoms can mimic other women’s reproductive health issues and may include:
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding (can be irregular or heavy at times);
- Pain during sexual intercourse – you may also experience bleeding during or after sex;
- Cervical myomas may become infected and result in pain, discharge, or bleeding from the vagina;
- A prolapsed cervical fibroid could create pressure in the pelvic area and result in abdominal pain;
- A large cervical fibroid may inhibit the free flow of urine and can cause urinary tract infections;
- Cervical fibroids may indirectly cause anemia from prolonged heavy bleeding.
Diagnosing Cervical Myomas
An OB-GYN can usually detect fibroids or cervical fibroids during a pelvic examination. Depending on the circumstances, they may be able to see or feel the fibroid on an internal examination.
To confirm their diagnosis and get a clearer idea of the location, size, or number of fibroids present they will usually order a transvaginal ultrasound. MRI imaging has a much higher resolution than ultrasound but is unfortunately not commonly used.
What Are The Treatment Options For Cervical Fibroids?
Cervical fibroid management can vary from a “wait and watch” situation to cervical fibroid removal through myomectomy or hysterectomy depending on the severity of symptoms the patient is experiencing.
Cases of cervical fibroids are rare but they do occur and the Barking Havering Redbridge University Teaching Hospital, Romford, United Kingdom reported on such a case. A young woman came in complaining of severe abdominal pain, bloating, and bowel issues. After examination, she was diagnosed with a large posterior cervical fibroid and underwent a difficult myomectomy.
Sometimes fibroids can interfere with fertility or the sustainment of pregnancy so eliminating them prior to becoming pregnant may be preferable.
Fibroids respond to estrogen and are known to grow rapidly during pregnancy. While cervical fibroids rarely cause infertility, having cervical fibroids during pregnancy can be dangerous.
There was a case report from a hospital in Singapore that told of a 31-year-old woman who had a large cervical fibroid that was discovered when she became pregnant. She was monitored throughout her entire pregnancy and the fibroid continued to grow larger. Her baby remained in the breech position and so at 35 weeks, she underwent a cesarean to deliver her baby.
About seven months later, an open myomectomy (laparotomy) was performed to remove the 23 cm cervical fibroid but a complication of severe hemorrhaging occurred and a total hysterectomy was performed.
Early intervention in cervical fibroid management would offer the patient more treatment options before the fibroid becomes too large and removing it becomes dangerous.
Non-Surgical Treatment Option To Eliminate Cervical Fibroids
Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) may be an option to treat cervical fibroids depending on their location and size. UFE is a non-surgical procedure performed by an Interventional Radiologist that blocks the vital blood supply that allows a fibroid to live and grow.
However, while UFE works very well for fibroids throughout the uterus (90% success rate), initial reports on cervical fibroids were not as successful. UFE relies on completely cutting off the blood supply to the fibroids and it was initially found that the infarction rate for cervical fibroids was significantly lower than for all other fibroids. This accounted for the initial lower success rates.
More recent studies using more selective embolization and a slightly smaller particle size are now producing success rates comparable to “traditional” UFE.
This is another reason why if you’re suffering from fibroids, you want the most experienced doctors working for you. When it comes to fibroids and UFE, there is no one more experienced than the team of Dr. John Lipman & Dr. Mitchell Ermentrout of the Atlanta Fibroid Center. If you have been diagnosed with fibroids and want to learn more about UFE or if it would be right for you, contact The Atlanta Fibroid Center today.