Symptoms of Fibroids

Symptoms-of-Fibroids_LI-00-0162-A-Fibroids are benign tumors formed from smooth muscle tissue that originate in the uterus. They are also known as myoma, fibromyoma or uterine leiomyoma. They typically surface in women aged 30 to 40 and in various sizes, quantities and locations within the uterus. They can appear as several small growths the size of a golf ball or just one big mass the size of a grapefruit.

The symptoms of fibroids can develop gradually over time or rapidly over a short period. Most women with fibroid conditions feel mild symptoms while others feel none at all. The symptoms of fibroids are felt in increased levels during the later reproductive years or when the extremely rare malignant version called leiomyosarcoma occurs.

Approximately 25% of women with fibroids have symptoms. It is all the more important that women are made aware of the symptoms of fibroids so that they will know what to do or what not to do when they notice symptoms like the following:

  • Heavy menstrual bleeding – Abnormal menstrual bleeding, heavier menses, prolonged periods, bleeding or spotting between periods and menstrual cramps and pain are signs to watch out for. The passage of large clots and gushing or flooding are also signs that fibroids may be developing.
  • Abdominal pressure and pain – Pressure, pain and bloating can be felt in the abdomen if large fibroids cram up the area. Developing fibroids can as well cause discomfort in the lower back.
  • Abdominal enlargement – As the uterine area is filled up with growing fibroids, the uterus becomes enlarged and this shows up in an expanding abdomen. This results in a feeling of heaviness and a semblance of pregnancy.
  • Urinary discomfort – This is a common fibroid symptom wherein large fibroids may squeeze the bladder and urinary tract, especially when a woman is lying down. This causes frequent urination or the urge to urinate. On the other hand, the flow of urine may be blocked if the ureters, or the tubes connecting the kidneys to the bladder, are pressed by large fibroids.
  • Pelvic pressure and pain – This typically happens when there is cramping in the pelvic area associated with unusually heavy menstrual flow. If nerves are constricted by pressing fibroids, pain can extend to the lower back, flank or legs with the pain ranging from manageable to severe.
  • Constipation – Fibroid pressure against the rectal area can block normal bowel movement.
  • Pain or bleeding during intercourse – As fibroids grow and extend to the cervical area, a woman may experience painful sex or bleeding during intercourse. In extreme cases, sexual intercourse might become almost impossible.

It is not clear what causes fibroids but what is clear is that there are medically proven symptoms of fibroids that tell they are real. For women who are feeling some symptoms, it is best to see a doctor for early diagnosis. For those who are feeling many or all of the symptoms of fibroids or an increasing intensity of the symptoms, there is urgency in seeing a doctor for immediate medical intervention and care.

Some symptoms that are often related to fibroids and should be evaluated by a doctor include:

  • Abnormally heavy bleeding
  • Extremely painful menstruation
  • Bleeding or spotting between menstrual periods
  • Persistent pelvic and lower back pain
  • Frequent urination, constant urge to urinate or difficulty in urinating
  • Chronic constipation

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Fibroid Pain – How To Cope

Fibroid_Pain-How_to_Cope_LI-00-0161-AFibroids are the most common type of pelvic growth, affecting up to 30 percent of women at some time in their lives. As fibroids grow differently in every woman, treatments differ in every person. The amount of fibroid pain does not always depend on the size of the fibroid but is more often determined by the location of the growth.
Although fibroids are made from muscle tissue as found in the uterus, they are not only found within the uterine cavity. Fibroids can also grow outside the uterus, in the uterine walls and become attached to the uterus on a stem. When fibroids grow outside of the uterus, they may affect other organs.

  • If the fibroid is pushing down the rectum, it can make bowel movements difficult causing constipation and pain when defecating.
  • A fibroid growing toward the bladder may cause frequent urination along with pain or difficulty urinating.
  • In the rare cases when a fibroid grows very large, it can affect the ureter (the tube connecting the kidney and bladder). This leads to painful urination, urinary urgency and fibroid pain on one side of the body. This can lead to kidney damage in the future. In these cases, surgery is often required.

Fibroid Pain Can Vary

Fibroid pain can range from mild to chronic requiring surgery to relieve the patient from symptoms. Along with pelvic pain, lower back pain and dysmenorrhea (menstrual pain), fibroids can cause an abnormally heavy menstrual flow and even infertility in severe cases. Usually, fibroids shrink and pain begins to decrease at the onset of menopause.

Ways To Manage Fibroid Pain

In most cases, fibroid pain is mild and easily treated through over the counter drugs such as Aspirin, Tylenol or Advil. In addition, heat pads placed on painful areas can help to ease discomfort. If the above medications are ineffective, it is necessary for the woman to consult her medical practitioner who can prescribe NSAIDs to control mild to moderate fibroid pain.

Many women also find alternative therapies effective in providing natural pain relief. Holistic therapies that have found to reduce fibroid pain include hypnosis, acupuncture and herbal medicines. Symptoms may also be controlled through stress reduction techniques, such as breathing exercises and meditation, practiced daily to relieve tension.

Fibroid pain can also present a problem during sexual intercourse when pressure is applied to the abdomen or when the fibroid is pressed during penetration. This can be resolved by finding the most comfortable position.

In some cases, gonadotropin releasing hormone agonists may be able to cause fibroids to diminish in size although the effects are not always permanent. Another option is hormone treatments, such as progesterone injections or birth control pills, which can prevent fibroids from increasing further in size.

When all other methods fail and fibroid pain is so severe that it begins to affect daily living, surgery is often the necessary option. Patients may be required to undergo a myomectomy, hysterectomy, uterine fibroid embolization orendometrial ablation. While surgery is very effective in most cases, some procedures such as hysterectomy and endometrial ablation can leave women infertile.

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Fibroid

Fibroid_LI-00-0159-AA uterine fibroid is a benign (usually non-cancerous) tumor that develops in the smooth muscle-tissue of the uterus. Although made up of the same fibrous muscle as the uterine wall, the fibroid nodule is much denser. A fibroid can grow on either the inside or outside wall of the uterus, and can range in size from a small lesion to golf-ball size nodules, and, on rare occasions, a fibroid may completely fill the womb.

Types of Fibroids

There are four types of benign fibroids: Intramural, Subserosal, Submucosal, and Pedunculated. Each type of fibroid is located in and around the uterine wall, with the Intramural Fibroid being the most common.

As all women are different, so too are the size and amount of fibroids they may experience. While almost all women will develop a fibroid during their reproductive years, some may only have one fibroid, while others may have dozens.

Symptoms of Fibroids

Most women will not experience any fibroid symptoms, however, being aware of the warning signs is beneficial in addressing the issue early. Symptoms of a fibroid may not be limited to just one of the following issues, with some women experiencing what is often referred to as ‘mass-effect’ symptoms.

The size and location of the fibroid(s) determines the extent of symptoms each individual experiences. These include:

  • Abnormal Menstruation
    This fibroid symptom includes any bleeding or spotting between periods, and/or prolonged and excessive menstrual bleeding. Large clots may also be passed, and in some instances, heavier than normal menstruation can lead to gynecologic hemorrhage and severe anemia – as a co-existing disorder, fatigue, appearing pale, shortness of breath and heart palpitations may also occur.
  • Pelvic pain and discomfort
    Severe cramping may occur with fibroids, more so when experiencing excessive menstrual bleeding, and can also produce a feeling of heaviness in the lower abdomen. A larger fibroid can also put pressure on the surrounding structures, and if nerves are compressed, can produce lower-back pain, and pain in the sides and legs.
  • Frequent Urination and Constipation
    When a fibroid compresses the bladder, it decreases the bladder’s capacity to hold waste, and induces an increased need to urinate, and can lead to incontinence. Pressure placed on the bowel and rectum can result in constipation or difficulty during bowel movements.
  • Distorted Abdomen
    As a fibroid increases in size, they can expand above and over the pelvic bone, producing a paunch or the appearance of pregnancy. Depending on the location, when fibroids get large enough, they can be clearly felt by palpating the abdomen.
  • Pain during sexual intercourse
    In some cases, a fibroid can distort the vagina causing pain, and sometimes bleeding during sexual intercourse. (Note: painful intercourse may have other causes, and not necessarily be a symptom of uterine fibroids. As such, a medical diagnosis should be sought.)
  • Reproductive Dysfunction
    While studies are still in their early stages, and have elicited controversy, complications such as recurrent miscarriages, infertility, premature labor and complication during labormayhave a causal effect when a fibroid(s) causes distortion of the uterus.

When To Seek Medical Advice For Fibroids

While most women won’t experience any fibroid symptoms, or only mild symptomatic issues, which can be managed during annual check-ups, there are instances where medical advice and intervention is required. Seeking medical advice early on is the best course of action, especially if the severity of the symptom(s) is impacting negatively on your health and well being.

For More Information

The Acessa System from Acessa Health is specifically designed to treat all the fibroids, and just the fibroids, while preserving the patient’s uterus. For more information or to locate a physician who provides treatment using the Acessa System, please call us at 877-412-3828 or fill out our Contact form.

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Fibroid Treatment

Fibroid-Treatment_LI-00-0158-AUterine fibroid tumors may affect up to 30% of women in their childbearing years, with the risk increasing with age. Formed in a woman’s uterus, uterine fibroids may not always come with symptoms, but when symptoms are present, and especially when they are severe, fibroid treatment is important to ensure the woman’s comfort. There are a variety of options for fibroid treatment, including both medical and surgical treatments.

Gonadotropin-releasing Hormone Agonists

This method uses hormone-releasing drugs in the form of an oral treatment or IUD to help treat pain and bleeding and shrink the fibroid size, generally before surgery is performed.

Advantages:

  • Non-invasive method
  • Can be used before surgery to make surgery easier, lessen the recovery time needed and minimize loss of blood.

Disadvantages:

  • Expensive method to use for long-term fibroid treatment.
  • Side effects can include loss of bone density and osteoporosis as well as symptoms of menopause.
  • Fertility is preserved with this method.

Short term elimination of symptoms:

  • Up to 90% pain relief (Source)

Long term recurrence:

  • The long-term recurrence for this fibroid treatment is high, as fibroids often return to their previous state once the patient stops taking the medication. The long term recurrence depends on the surgical procedure used after treatment

Uterine Sparing

  • Yes.

Radiofrequency Volumetric Thermal Ablation – Acessa™ System

The Acessa System is an outpatient, minimally invasive surgical procedure that uses ultrasound guidance to allow the surgeon to identify all of the fibroids present in the patient’s abdomen. The surgeon then inserts the Acessa handpiece into each fibroid to ablate the fibroid from within.

Advantages

  • Treats all the fibroids while sparing the uterus
  • Minimally invasive in an outpatient setting
  • Fast recovery – patients go home the same day and return to work within 2-3 days.
  • Low recurrence rate
  • Treats fibroids in virtually all locations of the uterus
  • Lower cost than open surgery

Disadvantages

  • Risks associated with laparoscopic surgery

Short Term Elimination of Symptoms

  • Bleeding stops right away
  • Other symptoms resolve as the body absorbs the fibroid tissue

Long term Recurrence

  • Less than 5%

Uterine Sparing

  • Yes.

Hysterectomy

The hysterectomy method of fibroid treatment consists of removing the uterus through surgery. It can be done “open” where an incision is made in the abdominal wall and the uterus is taken out through that incision. It can also be performed through the vagina, in a more minimally invasive procedure. Finally, laparoscopic hysterectomy is a popular and growing approach to hysterectomy. This is a minimally invasive procedure where the uterus is removed through the abdominal wall or vagina.

Advantages:

  • There is no risk of recurrence.
  • Lower blood loss and greater patient satisfaction with minimally invasive method.

Disadvantages:

  • Being major surgery, there are some risks involved such as bleeding, fever and risk of damage to surrounding organs.
  • Recovery from an “open” hysterectomy is 6-8 weeks.

Short term elimination of symptoms:

  • Because the uterus is removed, symptoms are eliminated

Long term recurrence:

  • With the uterus gone, fibroids cannot recur.

Uterine Sparing

  • No.

Uterine Artery Embolization

With this method of fibroid treatment, a radiologist targets the area around the uterus with tiny particles to cut off blood supply to the uterus arteries and shrink the fibroid.

Advantages:

  • Minimally invasive
  • Surgery is not necessary with this method
  • Hospital stay can be as short as 24-36 hours.

Disadvantages:

  • Higher risk of recurrence and pain after the procedure.

Short term elimination of symptoms:

  • Approximately 90%

Long term recurrence:

  • Approximately 30-50% of patients show recurrence of symptoms within 3years

Uterine Sparing

  • Yes.

Myomectomy

A myomectomy is the removal of the fibroid from the uterus surgically. It can be done either “open” or using a minimally invasive method.

Advantages:

  • Resolution of symptoms initially
  • This fibroid treatment allows the preservation of the woman’s fertility

Disadvantages:

  • Higher rate of recurrence
  • This method can be complicated by how many fibroids are present and what state they are in.

Short term elimination of symptoms:

  • Up to 80% of patients are relieved of symptoms (Source)

Long term recurrence:

  • A myomectomy may allow for higher recurrence rates than other treatments, up to 45% after two years, according to some studies (Source)

Uterine Sparing

  • Yes.

With a variety of different options for fibroid treatment available, women should consider their options carefully and discuss with their doctor what method will work best for them.

Patient Information

To learn about physicians near you who use the Acessa system, please call us at 877-412-3828.

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