Women have quite a lot to deal with on the reproductive health playing field. Between PMS, menstruation, pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause, it sometimes seems like we can’t get a break. All of these are normal and beautiful processes that the female body can go through, but sometimes they come with extra risk or complications. It is important to keep track of your reproductive health to lessen your risk and effectively treat any complications. Uterine fibroids are a complication that affects many women. July is fibroid awareness month, which is a great time to learn about fibroids and what we can do to treat them.
So what are uterine fibroids?
Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous growths developed from the muscle tissue of the uterus. Uterine fibroids affect over 70% of women. Fibroids come in many shapes and sizes. In fact, many women don’t realize that they have fibroids. Fibroids can be so small that they cannot be seen by the naked eye or bigger than a grapefruit. The size and placement of the fibroids determine the severity of symptoms. Fibroids can cause pelvic pain, frequent urination, heavy menstruation, and difficulty getting pregnant. Pregnant women who have fibroids have a higher risk of being unable to carry to term or deliver vaginally.
There are three types of fibroids:
- intramural fibroids are located within the muscle wall of the uterus
- subserosal fibroids grow on the outer part of the uterus
- submucosal fibroids push on the inner lining of the uterus
Submucosal fibroids often cause more bleeding than other types of fibroids, as they grow just beneath the lining of the uterus. Even small submucosal fibroids can cause excessive bleeding or elongated periods (whereas women are more likely to be unaware if they have small intramural or subserosal fibroids, as they often are asymptomatic). Submucosal fibroids are the most likely to impact pregnancy and delivery.
There are several options for treating fibroids. Your doctor will recommend a course of treatment based on the location and size of your fibroids, as well as your health history. Your doctor may decide to simply monitor your fibroids, but medication and surgery are two options that are also used as treatment. Prescriptions like birth controls can help regulate the heavy bleeding fibroids cause, and procedures like myomectomy and hysterectomy remove the fibroids or the uterus, respectively. Before any treatment plan is determined, your doctor will discuss your reproductive plans with you.
If you are experiencing heavy menstrual bleeding or pelvic pain, you should make an appointment for a check-up right away. Dr. Ghea is a top female OBGYN in Plantation, FL with expertise in female reproductive health and symptoms. Dr. Ghea has appointments available at Westside OB/GYN group. Call 954-473-2011 to schedule an appointment.