When is Treatment for Fibroids Necessary?

Symptoms Requiring Fibroid Treatment

When heavy bleeding, clotting, and extended menstruation happens as a result of fibroids, it can leave patients homebound for days. Anemia is often a consequence and can result in tiredness, syncope, and headaches. When menstrual symptoms caused by fibroids reduce your quality of life, even for a few days a month, it is worthwhile to begin assessing treatment options. In the past, hysterectomy was the most common fibroid treatment but, with today’s advanced procedures, patients can keep their uterus after undergoing same-day surgery. Contraceptive pills and GnRH antagonists are other options that are used temporarily when surgery is not yet needed.

When Fibroids Interrupt Quality of Life

Some patients, particularly those with large growths, experience a feeling of pelvic pressure that makes certain exercises, movements and positions too uncomfortable to tolerate. This symptom is more common than localized pain, which happens when a fibroid’s cells begin to die, causing calcium build-up.

Frequent urination is among the most frequently experienced problems for those with fibroids and is caused by the pressure of the growths on the bladder. It can interrupt sleep, leaving patients feeling tired during the day. When fourth stage sleep is interrupted, the body does not heal itself, which may cause muscle pain and a general feeling of malaise. When there is pressure on the bladder, it can lead to frequent urinary tract infections. When fibroids put pressure on the rectum or vagina, they can cause discomfort, constipation, and painful intercourse.

Muscle pain, usually in the lower back, can be caused when larger growths put pressure on nerves and muscles. Since pain can be neurological or muscular, a range of different types of pain may be experienced, from cramping to shooting nerve pain that radiates to other areas. Back pain occurs in 80% of people at some point in their lives, so it should be investigated before assuming that it is a direct result of fibroids.

An enlarged abdomen and uterus sometimes occurs when the body makes room for fibroid growth. This is easily mistaken for menstrual bloating, but in some patients, the expansion is large enough to mimic a pregnancy. This symptom can also be caused by adenomyosis, where ectopic glandular tissue grows in the endometrial tissue. To rule this out, a physical exam and ultrasound will need to be done. Unlike fibroids, ultrasounds and MRIs are adequate diagnostic tests for adenomyosis.

Only one fifth of fibroid patients experience symptoms requiring treatment, and those experiencing physical effects usually have a number of symptom-free years before experiencing problems. Menopause often comes with fewer fibroid symptoms or removes them entirely. Previous treatments carried risk as well as extensive hormonal changes and were thus put off by sufferers wishing to avoid long recoveries or delay menopausal symptoms. Today, ablation techniques and laparoscopic procedures leave hormonal balance intact and are accompanied by short recovery periods, allowing all who are suffering symptoms to receive treatment.

Sources

  1. http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/uterine-fibroids.html
  2. http://www.aafp.org/afp/2000/0615/p3611.html
  3. http://www.babycentre.co.uk/a7187/what-you-need-to-know-uterine-fibroids
  4. http://www.ucsfhealth.org/conditions/fibroids/signs_and_symptoms.html
  5. http://women.webmd.com/uterine-fibroids/uterine-fibroids-treatment-overview
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5 Benefits of outpatient fibroid treatment

Minimally invasive

Fibroids can be removed through a form of minimally invasive, laparoscopic outpatient surgery that uses radiofrequency ablation. Laparoscopic surgery is often called “band aid surgery” because it consists of only two tiny incisions. This fibroid treatment destroys fibroids using a small needle through a technology known as radio frequency ablation. The surrounding tissue is unaffected while the destroyed tissue is reabsorbed. This minimally invasive procedure is performed under general anesthesia. This specific fibroid treatment targets only the fibroids, preserving the uterus.

Allows for rapid recovery

Once they have recovered from the anesthesia, patients typically go home on the same day as their surgery. They typically take mild anti-inflammatories after the procedure and can return to work within three to five days.

Has a low rate of recurrence

By treating all of the fibroids, there is little chance that the symptoms will recur again. Once the fibroid is eliminated, it is not likely that it will grow back. In fact, there have been a very low number of patients that have required further treatment following this procedure.

Alternative to a hysterectomy

Physicians often recommend that women with fibroids get hysterectomies, which is a complete removal of the uterus. But hysterectomies aren’t always necessary. Hysterectomies remove the uterus and often lead to complications, which include increased pain and long recovery times. Outpatient surgery removes the individual fibroids without having to remove the uterus.

Undergoing surgery can be a frightening experience. To prepare one’s body for outpatient surgery, it’s a good idea to stop smoking and/or drinking, exercise regularly and eat a well-balanced diet. Whichever method a woman chooses to treat fibroids, it should be one that is safe, effective and improves the quality of life.

Sources

  1. http://www.healthywomen.org/condition/preparing-surgery
  2. http://www.ucsfhealth.org/conditions/fibroids/treatment.html
  3. http://obgyn.med.miami.edu/migs/fibroid-clinic/treatment-options
  4. http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/1-surgery-women-dont-need-hysterectomy
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