Why Would Someone Need a Second UFE?

Uterine fibroids affect anywhere from 20-40% of women, and many of them are choosing to have uterine fibroid embolization, a procedure that blocks the blood supply to the fibroids in order to shrink them.

However, in rare cases, some women are finding it necessary to have more than one uterine fibroid embolization (UFE). Read on to find out why and if it could happen to you.

2ndufe

What is UFE?

Uterine fibroids are noncancerous tumors that grow on or in the muscle wall of the uterus. Though they do affect a large percentage of women, some do not show any symptoms. Those that do experience symptoms often suffer from excessive menstrual bleeding and severe pelvic pain or pressure.

Uterine fibroid embolization is a procedure to treat fibroids. During UFE, which is performed by an interventional radiologist, the doctor makes a small incision in the femoral artery.

He then guides an instrument through to the uterine artery, where he inserts embolic material that blocks the blood supply to the fibroid. Once the fibroid is no longer receiving blood, it will begin to die and shrink, reducing the painful and frustrating symptoms.

UFE is an outpatient procedure and recovery time is usually 7-10 days, after which you should be able to resume normal activities.

Are there any complications?

There are several risks and complications associated with UFE, although overall it is a safe procedure with minimal risk. Some of the potential complications include:

  • Non-target embolization
  • Transient amenorrhea, or absence of a menstrual period
  • Vaginal discharge or infection
  • Short-term allergic reaction or rash
  • Premature menopause
  • Post-embolization syndrome, which is typically a fever, some pain, and fatigue following the procedure
  • Possible fibroid passage
  • The effects on fertility and a woman’s ability to carry a child to term have not been determined

It is also possible that the first UFE treatment may not work to its full potential, and a second UFE would be required.

Why would I need a second UFE?

In general, approximately 90% of women who undergo UFE are satisfied with their treatment at follow-up. However, about 10-15% of women still experience symptoms and require other treatment.

In a study published in the American Journal of Roentgenology, 8,159 patients were followed after their UFE procedure. About 5% of these women needed an additional procedure, whether that was another UFE, a hysterectomy, or a myomectomy.

These additional procedures were mainly due to the failure of the first UFE to ease symptoms. Failures usually happened in the first two years after the UFE procedure.

The results showed that the risk of having a considerable complication from a UFE is lower than the risks of having a hysterectomy. At the same time, there is a higher probability of needing another treatment after a UFE than after a hysterectomy. Either way, the odds of requiring another treatment are low.

Learn more

To find out more about uterine fibroids, uterine fibroid embolization, and if it could be for you, visit our website at www.ask4ufe.com.

If you’re interested in finding a doctor in your area who can perform UFE, you can use the find a physician tool. All you have to do is enter your zipcode and a doctor will contact you.

PLEASE NOTE: The above information should not be construed as providing specific medical advice, but rather to offer readers information to better understand their lives and health. It is not intended to provide an alternative to professional treatment or to replace the services of a physician.

The Facts About a Myomectomy

If you’ve been diagnosed with fibroids or suspect you might have them, you’ve probably looked into treatments. You’ve heard words like hysterectomy, myomectomy, and uterine fibroid embolization tossed around.

But what exactly are all of these treatments? It’s time to find out all the details of one in particular: a myomectomy.

myomectomy

What is a myomectomy?

In short, a myomectomy is a surgical procedure used to cut out uterine fibroids, noncancerous tumors that grow in or on the muscle lining of the uterus. Since it does not involve the full removal of the uterus, in many cases it is possible for the woman to preserve or improve fertility with a myomectomy.

There are several different types of myomectomy. The size and location of the fibroids determine which type will be used.

  • Hysteroscopy, in which a lighted instrument is inserted through the vagina and guided into the uterus. This is used for small fibroids on the inside of the uterus that are not deeply embedded in the uterine wall.
  • Laparoscopy, where a lighted viewing instrument is used along with several incisions in the wall of the abdomen. Laparoscopy is used for small fibroids that have grown on the outside of the uterus.
  • Laparotomy, which involves a larger incision in the abdomen and is used to remove large fibroids, those that have grown deep into the uterine wall, or multiple fibroids.

Are there any risks?

Myomectomy is typically a low-risk treatment. However, as with any surgical procedure, there can be complications.

  • Extreme blood loss. If you’ve been losing a lot of blood due to fibroid symptoms, you may be at a higher risk of complications due to blood loss. Talk to your doctor about it and he or she may have ways to increase your blood count before the surgery.
  • Childbirth complications. While many women have a myomectomy to preserve or increase fertility, the incisions made during a myomectomy may cause problems during delivery. Your doctor may recommend a C-section to avoid rupturing the uterus.
  • Scar tissue. In rare cases, bands of scar tissue known as adhesions may form after the surgery. It is possible for adhesions to form inside or outside the uterus, which can lead to fertility problems or block a fallopian tube.
  • Chance of hysterectomy. If the surgeon finds abnormalities in addition to fibroids during the surgery, or bleeding is uncontrollable, he or she may have to remove the uterus. However, this only happens in very rare cases.

How do I prepare?

The most important thing to do when preparing for any surgery is to follow the instructions given to you by your doctor. Tell him or her about any medications or supplements you are already taking, and make sure to follow the doctor’s advice on how long before the procedure to stop eating and drinking.

You should ask your doctor what you can expect during and after the myomectomy, including the types of anesthesia and pain medication you will receive. It’s good to ask if there are any actions you can take to avoid any potential complications.

Lastly, make sure you plan for someone to accompany you on the day of the surgery or pick you up from the hospital. You may also need to plan to stay for a night or a few days, depending on the type of myomectomy.

What can I expect after myomectomy?

Depending on the type of procedure you have, your recovery time may vary. Recovery time from a hysteroscopy is typically less than a week, while laparoscopy is usually two to three weeks, and laparotomy is four to six weeks.

You may need to avoid certain activities for a few weeks as well, such as sexual intercourse or exercise. Your doctor will let you know, and may recommend avoiding tampons during recovery. You may have some vaginal spotting following the procedure.

As far as results go, you should experience a decrease in fibroid symptoms, including excessive bleeding and pelvic pain. Fertility may also be improved. Although there are many factors that influence fertility, often women who plan pregnancy after the procedure get pregnant within one year.

Learn more

If you’re interested in learning more about myomectomy and other treatments available for uterine fibroids, visit the treatment options page of our website.

PLEASE NOTE: The above information should not be construed as providing specific medical advice, but rather to offer readers information to better understand their lives and health. It is not intended to provide an alternative to professional treatment or to replace the services of a physician.

How Do Fibroids Affect Sexual Intercourse?

Aside from the severe pain, heavy bleeding, and bloating that women with fibroids experience, there is another worry – how will it affect my sex life? Uterine fibroids, which are noncancerous growths on or in the muscle walls of the uterus, can present many obstacles in the bedroom.

From frustrating symptoms to severe pain during intercourse, there are a few problems that can occur due to fibroids. However, through treatment, you can return to a happy, fulfilling sex life.

fibroids and sex

Symptoms

The symptoms themselves that accompany fibroids may get in the way of sexual intercourse or make it unpleasant. Uterine fibroid symptoms include:

  • Heavy bleeding: Being on your period for longer than a week or bleeding severely can make it difficult and even impossible to have sexual intercourse.
  • Pelvic pain: Extreme pain in the pelvis and lower abdomen can make intercourse painful as well.
  • Abdominal bloating: Depending on the size of the fibroids, the abdomen can become noticeably enlarged, even resembling pregnancy, which can interfere with your sex life as well.
  • Urinary incontinence and frequency: Feeling the need to urinate often can get in the way and make sex unappealing.

Intercourse may become uncomfortable and even painful depending on the location and size of the fibroids. Large tumors can put pressure on the walls of the uterus, causing pain. If a fibroid grows near the cervix at the end of the vaginal tract, insertional intercourse can become very distressing.

Another effect that fibroids may have, related to these symptoms, is the loss of libido. Not surprisingly, the desire to have intercourse can be lost when it becomes painful and may not be worth the struggle.

Solutions

There are several treatment options for fibroids that will improve the effects of the symptoms listed above. Some of the most common treatments include:

  • Hysterectomy: A hysterectomy is the full removal of the uterus. Many women have reported having better and more fulfilling sex after a hysterectomy. This may be because the surgery eliminates the pain and bleeding, making sex more enjoyable.
  • Myomectomy: This is the surgical removal of the fibroids without removing the whole organ. Normally, your doctor will tell you not to have intercourse for at least six weeks, but after that, things should be able to return to normal.
  • Uterine fibroid embolization: UFE is a minimally-invasive procedure that involves blocking the blood flow to the fibroids. It is performed in less than one hour and the recovery time is usually 7-10 days, after which you can get back to your normal sex life.

Learn more

The best thing to do if you think you may have fibroids or if your sex life is suffering is to talk to your OB-GYN. Your doctor can help you decide what treatment option is best for you.

If you want to learn more about uterine fibroid embolization and how it works, visit our website at www.ask4ufe.com.

PLEASE NOTE: The above information should not be construed as providing specific medical advice, but rather to offer readers information to better understand their lives and health. It is not intended to provide an alternative to professional treatment or to replace the services of a physician.

Myomectomy vs. UFE

With all the treatment options available for uterine fibroids, it’s hard to know which one will be best for you. However, if these noncancerous tumors that grow on or in the muscle walls of the uterus are affecting you, it’s important to know how your options stack up.

Two of the options to focus on are a myomectomy and uterine fibroid embolization. These two procedures are very different but can have similar results.

Myomectomy vs UFE

What is a myomectomy?

A myomectomy is the surgical removal of uterine fibroids followed by the reconstruction of the uterus. There are several ways that this procedure is done, including:

  • Abdominal myomectomy: Your surgeon will make an incision either vertically or horizontally across the abdomen. The length or direction of the incision depends on the size of the fibroids.
  • Laparoscopic myomectomy: A small tube with a camera attached is inserted through an incision in or near the belly button. The surgeon then makes other small incisions around the abdominal cavity, through which he cuts the fibroids into smaller pieces and removes them.
  • Hysteroscopic myomectomy: For fibroids that protrude significantly into the uterine cavity, a hysteroscopic myomectomy may be used to remove the fibroids through the vagina.

Most of the time, women who choose to have a myomectomy are those who want to preserve their uterus and fertility, especially if fibroids have been negatively impacting their ability to bear children.

What is uterine fibroid embolization?

Uterine fibroid embolization, or UFE, is a minimally invasive procedure that usually takes less than an hour. It is performed by an interventional radiologist, who makes a small incision to the femoral artery. He then guides a tube through the incision to the location of the fibroids.

The doctor injects small spheres of embolic material into the vessel supplying blood to the fibroid. This is used to block the blood flow so that the fibroid cannot continue to grow, and will begin to shrink.

UFE is an outpatient procedure and the recovery time is typically seven to ten days. You will be able to go home the same day and will be back on your feet, resuming normal life within two weeks.

Women who choose to undergo UFE want relief from their symptoms, but are not necessarily concerned with preserving fertility. The long term effects of UFE on ovarian function and the ability to carry a fetus have not been determined.

Which is better?

There are pros and cons to both a myomectomy and uterine fibroid embolization, and it really depends on what you decide will be best for you. It’s important to talk to your doctor about your options and your goals for the future.

A myomectomy is a more invasive option with a longer recovery time, but it is possible to continue to bear children afterward. UFE is simple, relatively fast, and easy to recover from, but your fertility may be affected.

Learn more

To find a doctor in your area that can tell you more about UFE and perform the procedure, use our find a physician tool. Just provide your zip code, choose a doctor, and he or she will be in contact with you.

PLEASE NOTE: The above information should not be construed as providing specific medical advice, but rather to offer readers information to better understand their lives and health. It is not intended to provide an alternative to professional treatment or to replace the services of a physician.

Are Fibroids Still a Problem After Menopause?

Some women who suffer from uterine fibroids – noncancerous tumors that grow in or on the muscle walls of the uterus – put off treatment because they are approaching menopause. While in many instances, fibroids have been shown to shrink after menopause, this may not always be the case.

Although often menopause causes fibroids to shrink, this may not mean that the problems and symptoms associated with fibroids will disappear completely.

Business woman going through menopause stock photo

Effects of menopause on fibroids

Since fibroids grow in part due to the amount of estrogen in a woman’s body, the changes in hormones that come with menopause can cause them to stop growing and even shrink. It may not be enough to make the tumors go away altogether.

Another thing to remember is that if a woman is taking hormone replacement therapy to help deal with menopause, the fibroids will not be affected and the woman will likely continue to experience symptoms.

Every woman’s body is different though.  Menopause may not cause the fibroids to shrink at all, and they may even continue growing. Some women have continued to experience painful symptoms from fibroids after menopause.

Symptoms of fibroids following menopause

Some of the uterine fibroid symptoms that may still persist after menopause include:

  • Pelvic pressure: You may continue to experience severe pain similar to cramps before a period. This pain can be extreme and can be a result of the fibroids pressing on the walls of the uterus and surrounding organs.
  • Urinary urgency: If the fibroids are pushing on the bladder, it can cause you to have to urinate frequently.
  • Abdominal bloating: Depending on the size of the fibroids, they may cause your abdomen to become enlarged, similar to a pregnancy.

These symptoms can occur for any woman that had fibroids prior to menopause, whether you are taking hormone replacement therapy or not.

Treatment options

Many of the same treatment options remain that are available before menopause. Surgical removal of the fibroids through a hysterectomy or myomectomy is one alternative.

Another option is uterine fibroid embolization, a minimally invasive procedure that takes less than one hour. This treatment involves a small incision to the femoral artery. The doctor inserts a small tube into the incision and guides it through the artery to the fibroid.

He then injects little spheres of embolic material into the vein that is supplying blood to the tumor. The goal is to block the blood supply so that the fibroid will stop growing and then begin to shrink.

Uterine fibroid embolization is an outpatient procedure, meaning you will be able to go home the same day you have the treatment. Recovery time can be as short as 11 days, and then you are able to return to a lifestyle you enjoy, without the pain of uterine fibroids.

If you are suffering from uterine fibroids, the best thing is not to wait to get treatment. While menopause does improve symptoms and conditions for some women, it’s impossible to know whether it will work for you.

Learn more

To find a doctor in your area that can perform the uterine fibroid embolization procedure, use our find a doctor tool. All you need is your zip code and a doctor will get in contact with you.

PLEASE NOTE: The above information should not be construed as providing specific medical advice, but rather to offer readers information to better understand their lives and health. It is not intended to provide an alternative to professional treatment or to replace the services of a physician.

When to Be Concerned About Heavy Menstrual Bleeding

Every woman’s body is different. There are all kinds of heights, shapes, hair colors, and shoe sizes. Menstrual cycles are no different. What seems normal for one woman could be completely out of the ordinary for another.

While some women have light periods and others are naturally heavier, there are times when heavy periods become extreme and can signal an underlying problem. So how do you tell the difference between normal and what is too much?

heavy bleeding

Should I be concerned?

A woman’s menstrual cycle can last anywhere from two to seven days and whether it’s heavy or light can depend on many factors. What’s normal is up to you and your body. However, if you suspect your period is heavier than it should be, there may be a problem.

Abnormally heavy bleeding is defined as being greater than 80 milliliters per cycle. Since this is often impossible to measure, a good way to tell is by judging the frequency at which you have to change your sanitary pad or tampon. If you have to change it every couple of hours or less, your bleeding may be heavier than normal.

Another way to judge is by the size and amount of blood clots in your period. If there is a lot of clotting or clots greater than one inch in diameter, this could also signal an underlying issue.

What causes heavy bleeding?

There are many factors that may be causing extreme bleeding. Often, it can simply be a hormone imbalance or change, such as the approach of menopause or the side effects of birth control.

Sometimes it can be a more serious problem. The following can all be causes of heavy menstrual bleeding:

  • Uterine cancer: This is a cancer that begins in the uterus and is usually characterized with abnormal bleeding, along with urinary pain or pain during intercourse.
  • Uterine fibroids: These are noncancerous tumors that grow on or in the muscular wall of the uterus. They often affect women in their 30’s and 40’s.
  • Infection: A main cause is pelvic inflammatory disease, which is an infection of a woman’s reproductive organs. It can cause serious damage if left unnoticed, but can be treated with antibiotics.
  • Extreme changes in weight: A restricted diet or high levels of stress can cause weight to fluctuate, which can trigger changes in the menstrual cycle.
  • Conditions related to pregnancy: A miscarriage can look like a heavy period. If you’re pregnant and you begin bleeding, call your doctor.

The best way to find out what is causing a heavy period is to talk to your doctor. Many problems like these can be detected early through something as simple as a physical exam or an ultrasound.

Treatment options

If your period is heavy due to a hormone change, it can often be reversed through hormone supplements or switching to a different type of contraceptive.

For some of the more severe issues, treatment can vary. Infections like pelvic inflammatory disorder can usually be treated with antibiotics. Cancer treatments depend on the stage and location of the cancer within the uterus, and can involve anything from chemotherapy to surgery.

For uterine fibroids, a procedure called uterine fibroid embolization maymake a world of difference. The treatment involves a small incision to the femoral artery and the injection of small spheres that block the blood flow to the fibroids, causing them to shrink.

No matter what the issue, make sure you talk to your doctor about what would be best for you. Just like every woman has a different shape, size, and menstrual cycle, treatment options vary for everyone. What works for one woman may not work for you.

Learn more

Menstrual cycles can tell us a lot about our bodies. If you’re experiencing pain or other symptoms that you think might be problematic, check out some of our other blog posts: What Could Be Causing My Period Pain? or When Your Period Signals a Problem.

PLEASE NOTE: The above information should not be construed as providing specific medical advice, but rather to offer readers information to better understand their lives and health. It is not intended to provide an alternative to professional treatment or to replace the services of a physician.

How Luisa Returned to an Active Lifestyle After Uterine Fibroids

Middle-aged women who are diagnosed with uterine fibroids – noncancerous tumors that grow in or on the muscle lining of the uterus – often worry that life will never be the same. Many think their active lifestyles are a thing of the past.

However, this does not have to be the case. Luisa, who had the uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) procedure in her early 40’s, was soon able to return to the activities she enjoyed before she developed fibroids.

luisa

Luisa’s warning signs

In her 40’s, Luisa noticed that her periods were getting heavier. At first, it was a small difference, but it didn’t take long for them to become nearly unmanageable.

At a routine OB-GYN appointment, she mentioned the issue to her doctor and he was able to do a physical exam that revealed the fibroids. Over time, Luisa also began to experience urinary urgency and even heavier periods.

Treatment options

At first, the only options for treatment that were given to Luisa by her OB-GYN were a myomectomy or a hysterectomy. She took some time to consider these two, and in the meantime, she heard a radio ad for a seminar on uterine fibroids.

Luisa signed up for the seminar and it was there that she learned about uterine fibroid embolization, a procedure that entails blocking the blood flow to the fibroids in order to shrink them. Her OB-GYN recommended that she go talk to an interventional radiologist, the type of doctor that does UFE procedures.

The interventional radiologist explained in depth about what uterine fibroid embolization would involve. After looking at her MRI, the doctor determined that Luisa was a perfect candidate for UFE. She had the procedure within a few weeks.

Post UFE

After having the UFE procedure, Luisa noticed a huge difference in her lifestyle. She was able to return to doing things that she loved, where previously, she would have been stuck at home dealing with her symptoms.

Within a month of the procedure, everything changed. She was no longer physically or emotionally troubled by the fibroids. She saw the difference that UFE made in her life immediately.

Luisa describes the difference by saying, “It’s night and day. Absolutely night and day.”

Learn more

Uterine fibroid embolization is a minimally invasive procedure used to treat uterine fibroids. It is an outpatient procedure, usually lasts less than an hour, and involves just a small incision to the femoral artery.

During the treatment, the interventional radiologist inserts a small tube into the incision in the femoral artery. The tube is guided to the location of the fibroids and then embolic material is injected into the blood flow leading to the fibroids. This stops the growth of the fibroids, causing them to reduce in size and stopping the symptoms.

Many women who had to give up their normally active lifestyle to care for the symptoms of fibroids are able to return to the action within a month of having UFE.

Read Luisa’s entire testimonial in her own words and learn more about UFE on our website.

Why Do Black Women Suffer the Most From Uterine Fibroids?

Uterine fibroids – noncancerous tumors that grow on or in the muscle of the uterus – affect 20-40% of women by the time they are in their 40s. But African-American women are three times more likely to have fibroids and the tumors can set in even earlier in life.

Although there are no known ways to prevent uterine fibroids, there are some factors that may be reasons that black women are at a higher risk.

black girl

Hair relaxers

A study done on 23,000 African American women showed that  women who used hair relaxing products were more likely to have fibroids. Specifically, fibroids may be linked to the chemical exposure through scalp burns that result from relaxers.

Girls who got their first period before age 10 were more likely to get uterine fibroids later in life, and early periods may also be linked to the chemicals in hair relaxers. A study was done on 300 women of various ethnicities and found that black girls were more likely to get their period at a younger age and more likely to use hair-relaxing products.

However, there is no specific evidence showing that the use of hair relaxers or early puberty cause fibroids. These things are linked only through association, in that women who use hair relaxer have a higher instance of uterine fibroids.

Family history

Because uterine fibroids have a higher prevalence in black women, they may already run in the family, which puts women today at an even higher risk. If a woman’s mother has had fibroids, the daughter is about three times more likely to have them herself.

If you know that you have a family history of fibroids, it is wise to get checked and pay attention to any symptoms that occur in your own body. You may be able to be diagnosed earlier, saving you from time spent dealing with painful symptoms.

Other risk factors

While not necessarily specific to African-American women, other risk factors for fibroids include obesity and eating habits. Overweight women are more likely to develop fibroids, and for very heavy women, the risk can be two or three times greater.

veggies

Along the same lines, a poor diet can lead to a greater possibility of fibroids as well. Eating green vegetables may help protect women from developing fibroids.

Learn more

Up to 80% of African-American women may be affected by fibroids, and you could be one of them. For more information on the warning signs of uterine fibroids including symptoms and treatment options, visit our post How to Tell If You Have Uterine Fibroids.

PLEASE NOTE: The above information should not be construed as providing specific medical advice, but rather to offer readers information to better understand their lives and health. It is not intended to provide an alternative to professional treatment or to replace the services of a physician.

When Your Period Signals a Problem

For most women, getting cramps around “that time of the month” is a normal part of life, although it can be annoying. For some women though, the pain and heavy bleeding signify a problem that needs to be addressed.

So how do you know if your period is normal? Or if you should be concerned about what’s going on with your body?

period problem

Normal periods

There is a broad range of what’s considered a “normal” menstrual cycle, and generally, it’s what is right for you. The cycle begins at the first day of your period and lasts until the first day of the next one, and this can be anywhere from 21 to 35 days. Your period itself can last 2 to 7 days depending on your body.

It’s different for every woman whether your period is heavy, light, painful, or pain-free. Your symptoms and the length of your period could even be changing from month to month and still be deemed normal. As you age, your period normally shortens and becomes more regular.

To determine if your period is normal, it’s a good idea to track it and begin to notice patterns.

Tracking your cycle

Some important things to track include:

  • Start and end date: This will help you monitor how long your cycle is, whether it varies month to month, and when you can expect your next period to begin.
  • Flow heaviness: Are you bleeding heavily or is your flow light? Does it seem different than normal?
  • Pain: If you get cramps, keep track of when they start and how long they last. If they become worse, make a note of that.
  • Abnormal bleeding: This includes bleeding in between periods or other irregularities.
  • Any other changes: Mood changes or anything else that seems odd or unexpected should be written down.

Problem periods

While it is normal for your menstrual cycle to have some irregularities, there are some symptoms that may signify that there is an underlying problem. You should see a doctor if you are experiencing any of these symptoms:

  • Your periods stop for more than 3 months and you are not pregnant.
  • Your period lasts longer than seven days.
  • You bleed between periods.
  • Your periods are less than 21 or more than 35 days apart.
  • You are experiencing severe pain that causes you to miss work, school, or other activities.
  • You are bleeding much more heavily than normal.
  • Your periods were regular but suddenly become irregular.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, or have other questions about your menstrual cycle, it’s wise to talk to your physician. They could be evidence of a number of issues.

Possible causes

Pregnancy: A missed period could be a sign of pregnancy. Alternatively, if you have just given birth and are breastfeeding, your period might be slow to return to normal.

Eating disorder: If you are not providing your body with the proper nutrients or have been exercising excessively, you may miss a period or cause it to stop altogether. Rapidly losing a lot of weight can have the same effect.

Premature ovarian failure: Some women lose normal function of the ovaries before age 40, when their ovaries stop producing normal amounts of estrogen or release eggs routinely. This can cause irregular or infrequent periods for months or even years. The condition is also known as primary ovarian insufficiency, and is often treated through estrogen supplements.

Pelvic inflammatory disease: This is an infection of a woman’s reproductive organs. It is evidenced by irregular bleeding or bleeding between periods. This condition can cause complications with fertility and other damage to the reproductive system if it is not diagnosed early, but it can be treated with antibiotics.

Uterine fibroids: These are noncancerous tumors that grow on or in the muscle walls of the uterus. Symptoms include heavy bleeding and severe pelvic pain. They may be treated through a simple procedure called uterine fibroid embolization.

More information

To learn more about what could be causing severe pain or other problems with your menstrual cycle, read the post, What Could Be Causing My Period Pain?

Even if you’re not sure if an irregularity with your period is normal or not, it’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor if you have questions.

PLEASE NOTE: The above information should not be construed as providing specific medical advice, but rather to offer readers information to better understand their lives and health. It is not intended to provide an alternative to professional treatment or to replace the services of a physician.

How Common Are Fibroids?

Although the term “uterine fibroids” isn’t heard much in day-to-day conversation, these noncancerous tumors are more prevalent than you would expect. The fact is that many women are living with uterine fibroids, and some may not even know it.

how common are fibroids

What are fibroids?

Uterine fibroids are benign tumors that grow on or in the lining of the uterus. They can be as small as a walnut or as large as a cantaloupe. Often, a woman may have several fibroid tumors.

Many times, fibroids do not cause any symptoms. When they do, possible symptoms can include excessive menstrual bleeding, pelvic pain, and urinary incontinence and frequency. These symptoms can even lead to anemia from loss of blood or an enlarged abdomen from the size of the tumor.

What are the risk factors?

The cause for developing uterine fibroids is unknown, and there are no known risk factors. There are no lifestyle risks such as smoking or diet that can prevent or increase the risk of fibroids.

However, after fibroids begin to develop, the hormones estrogen and progesterone seem to influence the growth. When a woman’s body is producing more of these hormones, the fibroids grow faster.

How common are uterine fibroids?

Studies show that fibroids affect 20-40% of women age 35 and over, and may affect up to 80% of African-American women, who are at a higher risk. Usually, fibroids are diagnosed in women between the ages of 35 and 54, but they do occur in some women as young as 20.

In general, all women of childbearing age are potentially at risk. Because estrogen plays a large role in the growth of fibroids, fibroids usually begin to shrink by themselves after menopause because of the drop in estrogen.

Because many women with uterine fibroids do not show symptoms, some do not know they are affected. During your annual gynecological visit, your doctor will check your uterus to see if it is enlarged. If he or she thinks it is enlarged, your doctor will schedule an ultrasound to confirm the presence of fibroids.

If you are diagnosed with fibroids but do not have symptoms, your doctor may recommend “watchful waiting.” During this time, your doctor will schedule regular checkups to keep an eye on the tumor growth and any symptoms that may appear.

What are my treatment options?

For women that are showing symptoms due to fibroids, there are a few treatment options. Some women choose to remove the entire uterus through a hysterectomy. About 30-40% of hysterectomies performed annually in the United States are used to treat fibroids.

Another option is a myomectomy, which is a surgery to remove only the fibroids. This can be a great option for women with a large, prominent tumor, but often does not make sense for women with multiple fibroids.

One treatment that is gaining popularity is uterine fibroid embolization (UFE). This is a minimally invasive procedure that involves cutting off the blood flow to the fibroids in order to shrink them. UFE is an outpatient procedure and usually lasts less than an hour.

Where can I find more information?

To learn more about uterine fibroids and treatment options, download our free ebook or visit our website at www.ask4ufe.com. We have tools that can inform you on how to approach fibroids and find physicians that can help.

PLEASE NOTE: The above information should not be construed as providing specific medical advice, but rather to offer readers information to better understand their lives and health. It is not intended to provide an alternative to professional treatment or to replace the services of a physician.