Living With Uterine Fibroids
Uterine fibroids are abnormal growths in your uterus. They’re a common issue, especially starting in your 30s, 40s, and going into menopause. While it can be scary to have a “growth” in your uterus, fibroids are very rarely cancerous, and many women never have symptoms.
For women who do have fibroid symptoms, however, this can mean a great deal of pain and discomfort. Many turn to invasive treatments, like hysterectomies, that remove their entire uterus.
Our team at Tubal Ligation Reversal Center believes in protecting and preserving your reproductive health. For our clients in Atlanta, Monroe, and Loganville, Georgia, we offer innovative solutions to help you manage your gynecological issues using minimally invasive treatments.
Understanding uterine fibroids
Your uterus, or womb, plays an important role in your body. Not only does it support pregnancy and childbirth, but it also provides structural integrity to your bowel, bladder, pelvic organs, and pelvic bones.
Your uterus also has a complex network of blood vessels and nerves which directs blood flow throughout your pelvis and external genitalia, which is involved in sexual response.
There are three types of fibroids, including:
- Submucosal: growing in your uterine cavity
- Intramural: growing within the uterine wall
- Subserosal: growing outside your uterus
No one knows what triggers these abnormal growths to develop in your uterus, but they’re often genetic and linked to the hormones estrogen and progesterone. Your chances of having fibroids may also be higher if you’re overweight, frequently eat red meat but very little vegetables, or are African American.
When uterine fibroids cause symptoms
Anywhere between 20-80% of women have uterine fibroids by the time they turn 50. You can have a single growth or several, and they can range in size from a tiny seed to the size of a grapefruit, or even bigger. And unfortunately, some fibroids (especially large growths) can cause a variety of uncomfortable symptoms.
Common symptoms of uterine fibroids include:
- Heavy menstrual bleeding
- Painful periods
- Pelvic pain or fullness
- An enlarged lower abdomen
- Lower back pain
- Painful sexual intercourse
- Urinary incontinence
In some cases, uterine fibroids can also cause reproductive issues, like with fertility, as well as complications during pregnancy or labor.
Treating uterine fibroids
Hysterectomies are a common treatment recommendation for uterine fibroids. This procedure removes your uterus and sometimes other reproductive organs, like your ovaries or cervix.
While this treatment can provide effective relief from fibroid symptoms, approximately 90% of hysterectomies are unnecessary. At Tubal Ligation Reversal Center, we pride ourselves on offering the least invasive treatments available to help relieve your uterine fibroids symptoms while still preserving your reproductive health.
We recommend a variety of medications to address specific fibroid symptoms. In some cases, they might include:
- Over-the-counter or prescription pain relievers
- Iron supplements to avoid anemia from blood loss
- Low-dose birth controls, like The Pill, or IUDs
There are also medications specifically formulated to treat fibroids known as gonadotropin releasing hormone agonists (GnRH-a). These drugs can shrink fibroids and eliminate heavy bleeding.
This minimally invasive procedure involves passing a small instrument, or hysteroscope, with a light and camera through your vagina and into your uterus. We use this treatment device to both diagnose fibroids as well as remove them.
We perform hysteroscopy in our office under local or general anesthesia. During your procedure, we fill your uterus with fluid or gas to improve visibility in the area. Then, we guide the hysteroscope into your uterus to locate and capture images of your fibroids.
To remove your fibroids, we use a suction morcellator. This device enables us to cut and remove tissue at the same time, so we can remove your fibroid faster and with less risk.
After having hysteroscopy, you may experience cramping and discomfort for a few days, but you can manage the symptoms with over-the-counter medications.
This treatment involves removing or destroying your uterine lining to stop heavy and menstrual bleeding. We might recommend this technique if you are done having children because it can affect your fertility.
We use a variety of techniques to perform endometrial ablation, including:
- Laser ablation
- Thermal balloon ablation
- Electrical cauterization using special electrodes
- Microwave ablation
- Cryoablation (freezing)
We perform this 30-45 minute procedure using local anesthesia or sedation. You can go home right after your appointment. After the procedure, you might experience some minor vaginal bleeding, discharge, or cramping for a week or two.
To learn more about living with uterine fibroids and how we can help treat it using minimally invasive methods, call or schedule an appointment online to visit one of our Georgia offices today.