Fibroid Degeneration: Facts, Symptoms, and Relief

Fibroid degeneration occurs when fibroid’s vascular supply is outgrown. This is followed by acute but temporary pelvic pain. Today we are going to cover appropriate treatment and other aspects related to degenerated fibroids.  

Facts About Fibroids

80% of women will experience fibroids in their lifetime but many of them will be asymptomatic and go unnoticed. Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous tumors that grow on or within the walls of the uterus. They are composed of the same muscle as the uterus and attach to the uterus and grow through blood vessels that supply them with what they need to live and grow. As fibroids grow, they can cause an array of unpleasant symptoms including:

  • Abnormal or heavy bleeding during the menstrual cycle;
  • A feeling of fullness or bloating in the lower abdomen;
  • Lower back, buttock, leg pain;
  • Need to urinate frequently, occasionally leak urine;
  • Pain or pressure during intercourse;
  • Infertility;
  • Complications during pregnancy or delivery.

Explaining Fibroid Degeneration

Simply stated, when a fibroid requires a larger blood supply than it is receiving, it begins to die or degenerate. The fibroid then starts shrinking down to a size that the current blood supply can feed.

Initially, the size of the fibroid decreases but normally they grow back to the larger size and the cycle starts all over again causing uncomfortable and sometimes debilitating symptoms. The pain associated with fibroid degeneration can last from a few days to a few weeks. As long as there is a blood supply to the fibroid, it can continue this cycle.

Symptoms of Degenerated Fibroids

A woman may be unaware she has fibroids until she experiences the more severe symptoms associated with fibroid degeneration. Fibroid degeneration symptoms are:

  • sudden, severe abdominal pain, often localized to one side or quadrant of the pelvis;
  • abdominal swelling, bloating.

Fibroids can grow within the muscle of the uterus or can be attached via a “stem” or stalk-like structure and therefore are called pedunculated fibroids. Pedunculated fibroids are more likely to degenerate and, in rare cases, can result in a medical emergency where the stalk becomes twisted and completely blocks the blood flow to the fibroid.

Related: “Do I Need to Be Worried, I Was Told I Have Calcified Fibroids?”

Relief From Uterine Fibroid Degeneration

A Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) is a minimally-invasive non-surgical procedure that is done by an interventional radiologist. The procedure cuts off the blood supply to the fibroids preventing them from getting the nutrients they require causing them to die off. This will result in softer, smaller fibroids which will no longer cause symptoms.

Major benefits of UFE are the preservation of your uterus, much fewer complications than a surgical procedure (i.e. hysterectomy or myomectomy), and a much shorter recovery (5-7 days vs. 6-8 weeks).

Statistically, 90 percent of women report a great improvement in symptoms or complete relief by the 3 month follow up visit. For women 45 years of age and older, this will likely be the only procedure they’ll ever need for their fibroids. This is in contrast to a myomectomy which has a 11% recurrence per year! Therefore, over half of myomectomy patients will need a second procedure within 5 years of the myomectomy surgery.

Each woman’s experience with fibroids can be unique and symptoms may vary. Even if your symptoms have subsided, for the time being, it may mean the fibroid degeneration cycle is just on “pause” for the moment. The most reliable way to find and treat fibroids is by getting a medical opinion from an expert in treating uterine fibroids.

If you are suffering with fibroids, make an appointment to see one of the nation’s leading fibroid experts, John C. Lipman, MD Founder & Medical Director of the Atlanta Fibroid Center by calling (770) 953-2600, or make an appointment online.

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