Nearly all women will develop uterine fibroids at some point during their childbearing years. In most cases, these benign growths in the wall of the uterus cause no harm and require no treatment. The fibroids will often go away on their own and many women usually aren’t even aware the growths are there.
When symptoms occur, however, it can be extremely bothersome. Uterine fibroids can cause heavy menstrual bleeding and significant pelvic pain. Symptoms may vary from woman to woman, and are influenced by the number, size, and location of the fibroids.
Uterine fibroids are not typically an issue for postmenopausal women, as the fibroids shrink as hormone levels in the body drop.
How to Tell If You Have Uterine Fibroids
Fibroids can range in size from less than 1” across to more than 6”. The growths can develop singularly or in clusters.
Signs and symptoms that may indicate the presence of uterine fibroids include:
- Heavy menstrual periods (e.g., the need to change a pad or tampon sooner than every 2 hours)
- Passing large blood clots during menstruation (e.g., larger than a quarter)
- Prolonged menstrual periods (e.g., more than 7 days)
- Pelvic pain, lower back pain, pain at the back of the legs
- Enlarged or full-feeling abdomen
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Frequent urination
- Constipation or straining with bowel movements
- Anemia (insufficient red blood cells, which can cause fatigue, dizziness, and shortness of breath)
Your OB-GYN may identify what feels like uterine fibroids during a pelvic examination. Additional diagnostic tests may be conducted to confirm or identify other potential causes for the growths. These tests may include ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), blood tests, and more.
When to See a Doctor About Uterine Fibroids
Women may wish to seek treatment for uterine fibroids if their symptoms – such as heavy periods and pelvic pain – are severe or regularly disrupt their lives. Women who are trying to get pregnant may also wish to explore their treatment options because uterine fibroids can prevent conception or contribute to miscarriage.
Minimally Invasive Treatment Options
The only way to cure uterine fibroid is to remove the uterus entirely, as with a hysterectomy. However, for women who wish to become pregnant in the future, this is not a desirable or practical choice.
The next best step, then, is to shrink or remove the fibroids. The best way to do this will depend on the number, size, and location of the fibroids in your uterus – as well as the severity of your symptoms, overall health, and personal preferences. Treatment options run the gamut from medications to surgery to remove the fibroids (although this doesn’t prevent the fibroids from growing back).
One the benefits of turning to interventional radiology to shrink uterine fibroids is that interventional radiologists regularly perform minimally invasive procedures, such as uterine fibroid embolization (UFE), that can target all fibroids in the uterus, no matter their number, size, or location. UFE works on small fibroids as well as large fibroids.
During a UFE, an interventional radiologist threads a tiny catheter from (typically) an artery in the groin to the artery supplying blood to a fibroid. Once the catheter is in place, medicine or materials are released to block blood flow to the fibroid to shrink it.
UFE is a safe, effective, and reliable method of relieving the signs and symptoms of uterine fibroids. It preserves the uterus and allows you to avoid major surgery at the same time.
Uterine Fibroid Treatment in South Florida
Are you suffering from heavy periods and pelvic pain associated with uterine fibroids?
The interventional radiologists at Florida Endovascular and Interventional have a minimally invasive solution that can effectively relieve your symptoms. Call us at (786) 534-2555 to find out more or request an appointment now.