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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