Uterine Fibroids Vs. Endometriosis: Similar Symptoms of Completely Different Conditions
Uterine fibroids Vs. Endometriosis – there is a specific reason why women compare these diseases: they have a lot in common. Nevertheless, it is very important to understand the difference.
Fibroids and endometriosis have similar symptoms. Both involve abnormally growing tissue, however, uterine fibroids are benign growths that appear on or within uterine walls, and endometriosis is caused by the tissue that is normally found in the uterus; when endometrial tissue extends beyond the uterus and attaches to the nearest organs, such as the large intestine or other organs, ovaries or fallopian tubes, endometriosis occurs.
Fibroids Vs. Endometriosis: How These Common Diseases Are Treated Today?
Uterine fibroids and endometriosis are quite common diseases in women of childbearing age. These are two gynecological problems that have a common cause, and that is why they are often combined. This cause is an increased pathological cell division, which can be triggered by various reasons: abortion, genetic predisposition, gynecological diseases, hormonal disorders, chronic infections, and environmental influences (air pollution, poor nutrition, stress, smoking).
Sometimes uterine fibroids and endometriosis are asymptomatic and do not bother the patient. Then they can be detected only by ultrasound or MRI. That is why it is so necessary to undergo an examination by a gynecologist 1-2 times a year. But in most cases, both diseases manifest themselves with unpleasant symptoms, which are very similar.
Similar Symptoms of Uterine Fibroids and Endometriosis
If you have the following symptoms, you need to consult a doctor to confirm or deny the diagnosis:
- Severe abdominal cramping and shooting pain
- Painful menstruation
- Heavy menstrual bleeding
- Painful sex
- Irregular bowel movements/diarrhea during menses
However, sometimes endometriosis has several distinctive symptoms. It can be characterized by bleeding from the rectum or bladder instead of bleeding through the vagina. Endometriosis can also lead to infertility or difficulties getting pregnant. Much like uterine fibroids, endometriosis can be asymptomatic for a long time and start bothering you in late stages (there are 4 stages).
What Causes Endometriosis?
There are several theories about why endometrial tissue grows outside of the uterus. Genetics can be one reason; also, endometrial cells could move to the pelvic cavity in other ways, such as during a C-section delivery. Sometimes, hormonal disruptions, weakened immune system, abortions, and inflammatory diseases of the female genital organs can be the cause (among other possible reasons). Tissue affected by endometriosis outside the uterus cannot be entirely removed in most cases, which leads to internal bleeding, inflammation of the surrounding areas, and scar tissue growth.
Unlike uterine fibroids, endometriosis can often happen in younger women, even teenage girls after they start having periods. The sooner endometriosis is diagnosed, the sooner the patient will receive timely adequate therapy. This is key to preventing its further progression, and maintaining reproductive health, and quality of life in general.
In the treatment of endometriosis, a combined method is used – surgery followed by the use of hormonal drugs. Endometriosis is not always an indication of surgery.
As for pregnancy planning, this is determined individually and depends primarily on the scale of the disease.
What Are Uterine Fibroids?
Uterine fibroids are nodular benign neoplasm that appears in the muscle layer of the uterus. According to statistics, more than 24% of women suffer from this disease. The disease most often occurs at the age of 30-45 years, but recently it has become significantly “younger” – nodular formations are detected in women 20-30 years old.
The presence of a tumor rarely (in only 1% of cases) leads to cancer, but fibroids often cause infertility or miscarriage. With the onset of menopause, the growth of fibroids often stops.
Fibroid nodes can be single or multiple. Their weight is also different, from a few grams to more than a kilogram. Some fibroids grow rapidly and can reach large sizes, causing symptoms of compression of neighboring organs, others grow slowly, asymptomatically, and are detected by chance during a routine examination.
Sometimes fibroids decrease on their own or simply do not increase, patients have no symptoms, then treatment is not necessary. In other cases, patients require medical attention – the safest and most effective way to cure uterine fibroids is Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE).
Remember that if you have uterine fibroids or endometriosis, early diagnosis and treatment can help maintain the high quality of your life and be successful in treating both diseases.
If you have been diagnosed with uterine fibroids, please call Atlanta Fibroid Center at (770) 214-4600 (or make an appointment online).