One of the many things women hate about having fibroids is that they can make them look pregnant when they are not. Fibroids are hard and firm tumors made up of smooth muscle and fibrous tissue. As they enlarge, they will bloat the stomach enlarging the uterus like a pregnant woman. The length of a woman’s uterus in centimeters is the approximate month size of a corresponding pregnant woman. For example, a 12 cm length uterus is approximately a 12-weeks (3 months) size pregnant uterus. Anatomic landmarks can also be used to gauge the size of the uterus. If a woman’s uterus is enlarged up to the belly button, this corresponds to a 16-weeks (4 months) size pregnant uterus.
The bloated lower pelvic area may be the first sign of fibroids. A woman’s abdomen is soft, whereas the fibroid is hard as a rock and this difference can be felt when a woman tries to figure out why she is “poochy”. If she does not feel a fibroid, she may falsely attribute the increased pelvic girth as a sign of normal progression of aging or a lack of exercise. Increasing the amount of exercise or target the “stubborn abdominals” will do nothing to this bloating.
How does one stop looking pregnant when one is suffering from fibroids? While not specifically done to shrink the uterus, one of the many benefits of undergoing the Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) procedure is that women lose their poochy belly. The UFE procedure works by cutting off the blood supply to all of the fibroids in the uterus. Without a blood supply, the fibroids will die. As this occurs, these hard and firm tumors become increasingly soft and begin to shrink as well. By three months after the procedure the vast majority of women have their belly back and no longer look pregnant. In addition, those women that could feel their fibroids will no longer be able to feel them. This is because what is left of the fibroids are not only significantly smaller, but they’re also soft like the tissues surrounding it. On average, the fibroids will shrink ~50% by 3 months after the UFE and 60-70% by 6-12 months after UFE.
If you’re suffering from uterine fibroids and you’re tired of looking pregnant, give Dr. Lipman and the Atlanta Fibroid Center a call today at 770-953-2600 or make an appointment online at ATLii.com.