Up to half of the American women with fibroids are symptomatic based on relevant studies. If you’re suffering from the symptoms of uterine fibroids, please pay attention to the following DO’S and DON’TS in order to understand and improve your condition.
- If your Gynecologist tells you that you need a hysterectomy, DO get a 2nd opinion from an experienced Interventional Radiologist like Dr. John Lipman of the Atlanta Fibroid Center.
- If you’re changing pads more frequently than every 3 hours or have episodes of blood gushing or flooding out or passing clots (often quarter-size or larger), DON’T ignore this and believe that this is normal in any way, even if this has gone on for quite some time. The most common reason for this abnormal bleeding is fibroids. This should be discussed with your doctor.
- Fibroids DO cause symptoms based on their location in the uterus. There are 3 locations of fibroids in the uterus. The first and most centrally located are the submucosal fibroids. They are located just underneath the lining of the uterus and can be found completely or partially extending into the uterine cavity. These are the ones responsible for heavy periods.
The second type of fibroids are located at the periphery of the uterus; just underneath the outer covering. These are the subserosal fibroids and cause bulk-related symptoms (e.g. pelvic pain, bloating, back pain, sciatica, increased urinary frequency, constipation) as they grow and outwardly and push on whatever structure is next to them.
The third and most common of the three types are the intramural fibroids. They are located in between the other two types in the muscle of the uterus. These fibroids can cause bleeding symptoms like the submucosal variety or bulk-related symptoms like the subserosal fibroids or both, depending on which way they grow (toward or away from the uterine cavity).
- Uterine fibroids DON’T turn in to cancer. They are benign tumors. Some doctors will scare patients into an unnecessary hysterectomy based on elevations of a blood test CA-125. This can be elevated in women with ovarian cancer but is also commonly elevated in women with fibroids particularly in fibroids > 5cm, and in patients with adenomyosis. CA-125 is not sensitive enough or specific enough and should be dropped from use in fibroid or adenomyosis patients.
- Fibroid patients DO get pregnant after Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE). Women planning fertility can undergo UFE and their chance of a successful outcome is often as good or better than undergoing myomectomy. This is particularly true if a woman has numerous fibroids or has ever undergone a previous myomectomy.
- The Atlanta Fibroid Center has had numerous births post-UFE. These births are typically full-term and vaginal; whereas a c-section will be necessary after a myomectomy. If you have undergone a previous myomectomy and are still suffering from fibroids, DO consider UFE. Myomectomy only removes a portion of the fibroid burden which leads to a very high recurrence rate, versus UFE which typically knocks out all of the fibroids and therefore has a very low recurrence rate.