Who Should I Talk To About Treating Fibroids?

Who-Should-I-Talk-To-About-Treating-FibroidsFibroids offer an unusually high amount of treatment options in comparison to some diseases, thus making the question “Who should I talk to about treating fibroids?” more complicated than questions about certain other health issues.

Discussion With Physician

If fibroids have already been detected, the doctor who first found them may have immediately performed further examination or scheduled a lab appointment. As treatment options may vary depending on the number and size of the fibroids, an examination should be scheduled if it has not already been performed, with a particular emphasis on determining if the fibroids are cancerous or not. Once this has been performed, the best option in most cases is to talk to a physician who has experience with fibroids to discuss the various treatment options. Fibroids are common enough that most physicians will have at least some personal familiarity or know where to send referrals.

 

Treatment Options

Once the immediate question of “Who should I talk to about treating fibroids?” has been answered, there are a number of questions that can be asked. Multiple treatment options exist, though asking for the physician’s recommendation is often a good place to begin. However, it is important to remember that the treatment options range from major effects on the body to treatments as minor as merely treating the symptoms. Regardless of what the physician recommends, asking about the treatment’s effects can help a patient determine whether they feel that particular treatment is more invasive than they are comfortable with. As fibroids are almost always non-cancerous growths, a major procedure may not be necessary.

The mildest treatment is to simply observe, as fibroids will generally disappear during menopause due to hormone changes in the body. A Myomectomy will remove the fibroids while leaving the uterus intact, though this is more effective for a smaller number of larger growths than for many smaller fibroids. A Uterine Fibroid Embolization may also be an option; this procedure will effectively starve the fibroids of nutrients and kill them off, with an average recovery time of one week or less. Similar procedures work with techniques such as ultrasound or electricity; not all procedures may be available in all areas. The most extreme technique is a hysterectomy, where the entire uterus is removed. As a major surgical procedure that will have significant effects on the body, this is rarely the best option, but it may be recommended in the small percent of cases where fibroids are cancerous. It may also be a choice where future fertility is not necessary, and is the only technique that will guarantee the avoidance of future problems.

Each procedure offers various benefits and limitations, such as the length of stay in the hospital, post-operative treatment, and amount of time when sexual activity should not be performed. Treatments should not be chosen solely on the type of technique used, but also by the other effects they will have, including those not associated directly with the procedure itself. Patients may wish to write down a list of questions to ask their physician during the appointment to help ensure they do not forget any important questions. By having these and other questions in hand, asking, “Who should I talk to about treating fibroids” becomes a much simpler matter and the treatments can proceed.

LI-00-0113-A

How To Relieve the Symptoms of Fibroids

Radiofrequency-Volumetric-Thermal-Ablation-picAlthough they affect at least 25 percent of all women, there is unfortunately not a whole lot of research dedicated to uterine fibroids and their treatment. These growths, which tend to develop along the uterus wall during a woman’s childbearing years, are benign, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t cause problems, discomfort, and pain for those who have them. If you or someone in your care is one of the unlucky women who must deal with issues associated with these growths, you’re probably wondering how to get rid of fibroids. Here we will take a look at treatments that can ease discomfort, as well as how to get rid of fibroids altogether.

Finding Relief From Fibroids

Your fibroid treatment plan will largely be based upon the level of discomfort and/or bleeding that you experience on a regular basis. Here are a few suggestions for finding relief from fibroids.

Pain Relievers – If you only experience mild pressure or discomfort from your fibroids, you may benefit from an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drug such as ibuprofen or combination medications such as Excedrin. These types of drugs are referred to as prostaglandin inhibitors, which means that they are able to reduce the pain from cramps while simultaneously staving off the production of prostaglandins – the chemical produced by your uterus to start the contraction process necessary for ibuprofen.

Hormone therapy – Fibroids tend to be affected by changes in a woman’s hormone levels, especially estrogen. High estrogen levels may promote the growth of fibroids, while lower estrogen levels can cause them to shrink. If you are suffering from severe pain or excessive bleeding, it’s smart to talk to your physician about starting a hormone therapy treatment to alter your body’s estrogen production.

Birth Control Pills – If you are not currently taking birth control pills, your physician my recommend that you start. These pills are able to help minimize heavy bleeding and cramps that can be associated with fibroids.

Apple Cider Vinegar – If you are interested in alternative treatments and can stomach it, try apple cider vinegar. Some women swear that by taking two teaspoons of the vinegar with water each day during mensuration they have been able to reduce their blood loss and discomfort levels.

How to Get Rid of Fibroids

Although it may be tempting to ask your doctor how to get rid of fibroids through surgery, if you are nearing menopause, you will be best served to simply treat the symptoms, as fibroids will naturally shrink during this phase of your life. In fact, most women find that they no longer experience fibroid pain after menopause. If your pain or discomfort is extreme, however, you and your physician may determine the need to take more serious measures.

Myomectomy – This procedure will completely remove fibroids from your body while leaving your uterus intact. If you decide to go this route, your fibroids will either be removed through your abdomen, or vaginally.

Hysterectomy – The total removal of your uterus should only be used as a last resort for relieving your fibroid pain. This is the most invasive treatment, and will require an extended hospital stay followed by a recovery period at home.

Uterine Fibroid Embolization – This minimally invasive procedure may be able to shrink your fibroids, but usually is not performed by a gynecologist. A catheter will be inserted into your femoral artery via a small incision in your thigh, and an embolic agent will block the fibroid’s blood supply.This procedure frequently requires an overnight hospital stay to ensure adequate pain management.

Radiofrequency Volumetric Thermal Ablation – RFVTA is a common treatment method that uses electrical energy to create heat in the surrounding tissue and destroy diseased cells. When used to treat fibroids, RFVTA is done on an outpatient basis, and the therapy enables the patient to retain their uterus while significantly reducing the recurrence of fibroid symptoms.

Above all else, take care of yourself and your body. Make sure that you consult with your physician before starting any treatment.

LI-00-0111-A

Fibroid Treatment – Garza Leal et al. Study

The Acessa System uses ultrasound-guided radiofrequency volumetric thermal ablation, which has been used in many other medical specialties such as cardiovascular surgery, orthopedics, general surgery, and neurosurgery because of the life-improving treatment effects. This study suggests that in fibroid treatment benefits can be found as well.

Low Re-intervention Rate – Treatment of Fibroids

Using the Acessa System for fibroid treatment, as mentioned, there was no need for further fibroid treatment in the year these patients were followed after treatment. During this time, the only reported adverse events were mild abdominal pain, not requiring treatment. Of the seven patients who had adverse reactions immediately following the procedure, four were due to abdominal pain, three in the umbilical area, and were effectively treated. Two were related to urinary tract infections, and in one patient, an abdominal wall vascular injury was discovered, but was resolved.

Significant Improvement in Quality of Life after Treatment of Fibroids

Quality of life by six months had improved from baseline to 80%. Symptom severity had also improved by 66% at six months. Reports of very heavy menstrual bleeding at baseline was 80%, and by six months had reduced

to 13%, and by twelve months no patients reported heavy or very heavy menses. Duration of menses also decreased from a baseline of 51% having menses lasting longer than six days to 13% at six months and 10% at 12 months. The study also reports a significant reduction in the rate of pad use by patients being over 15 per day at baseline at 66% to 20% at six months and only 5% at 12 months.

In conclusion, laparoscopic ultrasound-guided thermal ablation for fibroid treatment using the Acessa System significantly reduces symptoms, need for additional fibroid treatment, and improves patient quality of life significantly to at least 1 year after treatment.

Click here to read the abstract

LI-00-0127-A

How To Treat Fibroids

A physician can offer guidance for how to treat fibroids. If no symptoms occur treatment isn’t necessary. A woman’s fibroids will tend to shrink during menopause. Her physician will watch the fibroids for changes to track symptoms and growths. Prior to menopause, women need to consider whether they still desire to have children or not before deciding if and how they wish to treat their fibroids. For women near menopause, adopting a wait and see approach may be the best decision.

Medicinal Treatment

Medication can be used to control symptoms or to shrink tumors. For pain, an over-the-counter medicine like acetaminophen or ibuprofen may be taken. Other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can be used also. If a woman experiences heavy bleeding, she can take iron supplements to combat or prevent anemia. Female contraceptives (birth control) can also be used as a method to treat fibroids. They control heavy bleeding and can relieve minor pain, while also preventing pregnancy if this is a concern.

Several medications are used to treat fibroids.

Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists – treat fibroids by decreasing progesterone and estrogen levels. This puts the body in a post-menopause state, which stops menstruation, can improve anemia, and shrink fibroids. If discontinued, fibroids usually grow back.

Intrauterine device (IUD) – releases small doses of progesterone into a woman’s uterus to relieve heavy bleeding and pain but won’t shrink fibroids.

Androgens – stop menstruation, shrink fibroids, and get rid of anemia. It’s rarely used because it basically causes a woman to exhibit manly traits, such as a deepening voice and hair growth, and also causes acne and headaches.

Progestin – reduces bleeding and prevents pregnancy. Studies differ as related to fibroid growth. Some show shrinkage, others show growth depending on the patient.

Surgical

When a woman wants to know how to treat fibroids permanently, in past the only solution was a hysterectomy. This procedure removes her entire uterus and she can elect to have her ovaries removed also. If her ovaries are removed, hormone replacement therapy is usually needed. Now, with the development of Acessa Health’s Acessa System that employs radiofrequency ablation, women have the ability to treat all of their fibroids without having to lose their uterus.

In addition to radiofrequency ablation, a woman who would like to preserve their uterus can choose to have a myomectomy. Myomectomy is the surgical removal of fibroids from the uterus. It allows the uterus to be left in place and, for some women, makes pregnancy more likely than before. Currently, myomectomy is the preferred fibroid treatment for women who want to become pregnant. After myomectomy, your chances of becoming pregnant may be improved but are not guaranteed. Myomectomies can be done in one of three ways:

  • Abdominal – open abdominal procedure for large fibroids
  • Laparoscopic – instruments or robots used to remove small fibroids as doctor watches
  • Hysteroscopic – instruments entered through vagina to uterus as doctor views through a scope

Myomectomy does have risks of complication and recurrence rates for fibroids can run from 10% – 50%.

There are a few other minimally invasive procedures as well. An MRI focused ultrasound may be used to destroy fibroids in multiple sessions. Uterine artery embolization (UAE) stops blood flow to fibroids. They shrink, but cause pain that may require prescription relief. Myolysis uses a laser or electric current to terminate fibroids and minimize feeding blood vessels. Endometrial ablation is performed with a special instrument that uses microwaves, electric current, or hot water to destroy the uterus lining, which ends or reduces menstruation.

Information on how to treat fibroids is crucial if a woman is experiencing symptoms. With this knowledge and the aid of a physician she can make the best choices for her situation.

LI-00-0110-A

Fibroid Tumors – What Are They?

They vary in size from microscopic to the size of a grapefruit. Uterine fibroid tumors are usually diagnosed during a routine pelvic exam. Their exact cause is unknown but there are several contributing factors.

What are fibroid tumors caused by?

Doctors have been able to draw correlations between the following conditions/factors and the development of fibroid tumors.

Estrogen. The more estrogen present, the more rapidly fibroid tumors grow; which is why they are never diagnosed in pre-pubescent girls. While its debatable whether or not estrogen causes them, it definitely plays a role in whether or not a women displays symptoms and/or requires treatment. Uterine fibroids are most common in women between the ages of 30 and 50, and much less prevalent in post-menopausal women.

Obesity. Women who are excessively overweight are two-times more likely to develop fibroid tumors.

Diet. Diets heavier in red meat has been linked to the growth of uterine fibroids, while those who eat plenty of green vegetables seem to be less susceptible.

Genetic predisposition. Women who have mothers or grandmothers with a history of fibroid tumors are more likely to develop them, as well.

Race. African American women are more likely to develop uterine fibroids than any other race and can develop them in their 20s, which is earlier than most other women.

There are several different types of fibroid tumors:

Submucosal – Lie just under the mucous lining of the uterus and they frequently cause bleeding outside of the normal menstrual cycle.

Intramural – Occur in the wall of the uterus and can cause uterine bulking or pain as fibroids get larger.

Subserosal – Located on the outside layer of the uterine wall, and cause problems as they grow and come in contact with other organs.

Pedunculated – These fibroid tumors grow on a stalk, and are generally occur as pedunculated submucosal or subserosal fibroid tumors. They may be symptomatic in the same manner as non-pedunculated tumors.

Symptoms and Treatment of Fibroid Tumors

The most common symptoms of uterine fibroids include:

  • Heavy menstrual periods with prolonged bleeding
  • Abnormal bleeding
  • Pain in the pelvic/lower abdominal region
  • A feeling of fullness, or actual enlargement, of the pelvic/lower abdominal region
  • Bladder pressure and/or increased need to urinate
  • Lower back pain/pressure

Treatments for fibroid tumors may vary. Small tumors will usually go untreated, unless they are symptomatic. Some tumors respond well to medicine, which causes them to shrink. Larger tumors may need to be removed via surgery. Women should notify their doctor(s) if they have a family history of fibroid tumors and make an appointment if they experience any symptoms. Thankfully, the majority of women with fibroid tumors will never experience symptoms requiring invasive treatment.

LI-00-0108-A