Fibroids Treatment in South Florida
Fibroids, also known as myomas, are the most common type
of benign growths found in the female reproductive organs.
No two fibroids are alike
Fibroids can grow slowly, or not at all. Some can develop individually; some grow in clusters. Some cause heavy periods and severe pain. Others are only discovered during a pelvic examination or prenatal ultrasound.
Fibroids can occur at any age, but are most prevalent in women of childbearing age, and often shrink after menopause when hormone levels drop.
For unknown reasons, fibroids are more prevalent in African Americans and Latinas, who also generally experience more severe symptoms and tend to be diagnosed at a younger age.
There are three major types of fibroids, classified according to location:
- Subserosal Fibroids grow on the outside of the uterus
- Intramural Fibroids grow with the walls of the uterus
- Submucosal Fibroids are located within the endometrium, the inner lining of the uterus
The size and location of the fibroids often determine the symptoms and the treatment.
What are the symptoms of fibroids?
Though fibroids are generally noncancerous and therefore not dangerous, they can cause a number of painful symptoms. Heavy periods are the most common fibroid symptoms.
Other symptoms include:
- Menstrual pain
- Pain during intercourse
- Urinary frequency or the inability to urinate
- Bloating and abdominal distention
How are fibroids diagnosed?
An ultrasound is commonly ordered if you have symptoms of fibroids or to confirm the diagnosis of fibroids after a pelvic exam.
If you have been experiencing heavy bleeding, a complete blood count (CBC) may be ordered in addition to other lab tests.
How are fibroids treated?
Fibroid treatment is determined on a case-by-case basis.
There are a variety of medical, non-surgical, and surgical treatments, each with its own set of benefits and risks.
Traditional Surgical Options for Fibroids
Traditional surgical procedures for fibroids include a myomectomy, where just the fibroids are surgically removed, and a hysterectomy, where the uterus is removed.
A myomectomy is generally recommended for those who have multiple or very large fibroids and want to preserve their uterus. While the procedure is extremely effective, there is always the possibility that additional fibroids could grow over time. The younger you are, the greater the chance the fibroids will recur.
A hysterectomy involves removal of the uterus (not the ovaries) and is considered major surgery. A hysterectomy is generally the surgery of choice for women who have completed their childbearing years. The good news is fibroids cannot grow back and heavy menstrual bleeding is eliminated. The hysterectomy can be performed vaginally, abdominally, or laparoscopically, depending on the size of the uterus and other factors. Recovery time is anywhere from four to six weeks and faster with the laparoscopic or robotic approach.
New approaches to the treatment of fibroids include ultrasound-guided microwave energy to shrink the fibroids without requiring an incision as this treatment is performed transvaginally.
Medical and Non-Surgical Treatment Options for Fibroids:
Various non-surgical therapies are available to treat heavy menstrual bleeding related to uterine fibroids.
The most common medication recommended are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as Motrin, Advil, Aleve, Celebrex, etc. There are various anti-hormonal medications prescribed to halt the growth of fibroids while alleviating symptoms such as heavy bleeding and intense pain. Oriahnn, an oral drug, was approved by the FDA in 2020 for women who experience heavy menstrual bleeding related to uterine fibroids. This combination of estrogen and progestin was the first drug specifically approved for the treatment of fibroids. Other options include Lupron, an intramuscular drug which can help alleviate the symptoms of fibroids; much like Oriahnn, Lupron can only be used for a limited period of time.
Do fibroids cause infertility?
Most women diagnosed with fibroids are able to conceive and deliver a healthy baby. However, fibroids can cause infertility depending on the location. A submucosal fibroid can interfere with implantation and the growth of the embryo. Fibroids can also alter the shape of the cervix (thereby preventing or limiting sperm movement), block the fallopian tube, and reduce blood flow to the uterus, preventing the embryo from implanting.
In addition to causing pain during pregnancy, fibroids can affect the growth of the baby and increase the risk for miscarriage, preterm delivery, and a Cesarian-section delivery.
Whether you are in need of treatment because of discomfort, pain, or fertility, it is important to consult with a gynecologic oncologist who is trained to help you make personalized decisions.
What are the risk factors for fibroids?
While the cause of fibroids is unknown, we believe genetics, family history and hormones play a major role. Other risk factors include race, alcohol, excessive consumption of red meat, birth control, vitamin D deficiency, and age.
Though not preventable, fibroids are treatable.
At the Center for Gynecologic Oncology, we diagnose and treat fibroids regularly. As gynecologist oncologists, we are dedicated to providing you with the most up-to-date treatments and the best possible outcome.