About Uterine Fibroids

Fibroid Facts

WHAT IS A FIBROID EXACTLY?

Uterine fibroids – which are also referred to as uterine leiomyomas or myomas – are benign tumors that grow in or on the uterus. In less scary terms- they’re normally harmless, common growths.17, 18 It’s when they cause disruptive symptoms that we consider addressing them. They vary in size, amount, and location, and it’s these factors that cause different effects on women.13

TYPES OF FIBROIDS

“If you’ve seen one fibroid, you’ve seen one fibroid.”

No two fibroids are the same. Some are big, some are small, some women have a lot, some have just one. But in the broader sense, we classify them by location.13

Intramural:

Within the muscular walls of the uterus and typically can cause heavy bleeding or pressure symptoms.

Submucosal:

Either inside or abutting the uterine cavity and typically cause heavy bleeding (least common type).

Subserosal:

Outer wall of the uterus and typically cause bulk or pressure symptoms.

Pedunculated:

Fibroids on a thin stalk (less common).

WHAT CAUSES FIBROIDS?

The reason fibroids develop remains unclear. What occurs biologically is a rogue cell becomes a fibroid cell instead of a uterine one. That cell then replicates over and over, growing into a fibroid tumor. Some research and clinical studies point to fibroids being hereditary.13 On the other hand, there has been no evidence to prove they arise from hormonal, behavioral, or environmental factors.

But the important thing to remember is that fibroids are incredibly common.15 In fact, they go as far back as ancient times. The Ancient Greeks wrote about fibroids and uterine fibroids have been found in Egyptian mummies.32 They remain a prominent condition among women today, so you’re nowhere near alone.

STATISTICS

6.5 M

Every year, nearly 6.5 million women seek treatment for fibroids in the US.14

1/3

Nearly 1/3 of employed patients (28%) report missing days of work due to fibroid symptoms.16

3.6

Women with fibroids waited an average of 3.6 years to seek treatment.16

80%

80% of African American women will develop fibroids by the age of 50.17

*According to a survey of 900+ patients.16

SYMPTOMS

Fibroid tissue can be harmless – fibroids become a problem when they cause symptoms that affect quality of life.13, 17, 18 Here’s the rub, symptoms can be so diverse and similar to normal period pain, that oftentimes women don’t realize what they are experiencing isn’t normal. The key symptoms to look out for are:

Extreme periods

Stomach and Pelvic Pain

Leg & Back Pain

Anemia

Stomach Swelling and Bloating

Pain During Sex

Digestive Issues

Frequent urination

Extreme periods

Let’s be real, that time of the month sucks. And when fibroids are in the mix, it can feel never-ending. Your period might be affected by fibroids if it lasts longer than 7 days, requires changing your tampon or pad every hour, or has gotten more painful.

“It feels like I’m always on my period. I go through pads and tampons so fast. I’m constantly afraid of bleeding through my pants.”

Stomach and Pelvic Pain

You know when you hurt, down there and it almost feels like someone is putting pressure on your bikini line? That can be a symptom of fibroids. Fibroids can cause stomach and pelvic pain that can feel like cramping.

“I keep getting these inexplicable cramps. My stomach hurts like I’m on my period even when it’s not that time of the month and I don’t know why.”

Leg & Back Pain

Do you ever have difficulty standing for long periods of time? Depending on the type, size, and location of fibroids, they can put pressure on the muscles and nerves causing pain in the lower back and legs.

“My legs and lower back are always hurting. I don’t feel like exercising or going for walks because of the pain.”

Anemia

Anemia is when you don’t have enough red blood cells in your system. Fibroids can cause heavy periods, which means excessive blood-loss throughout a period. The lack of enough blood in your system can cause constant exhaustion, nausea, and light-headedness.

“I feel exhausted even when I go to bed early and sleep well. I have a hard time keeping up with activities and I’m so tired it affects my daily routine.”

Stomach Swelling and Bloating

Fibroids, especially larger and subserosal ones, can cause swelling and bloating. And the more they grow, the heavier they get. As a result, women can experience weight gain. This swelling can also create the appearance of pregnancy.

“I feel like none of my clothes fit. No matter how hard I try, my stomach has a pooch that I can’t get rid of.”

Pain During Sex

Nothing kills the mood quite like fibroid pain. Fibroids can impact sex in a number of ways, depending on the size and location. Large fibroids can create pressure inside the uterus that can make physical intimacy painful.

“I used to enjoy being intimate with my partner, now it’s just painful and awkward. I’m afraid I’ll never enjoy intimacy again.”

Digestive Issues

That not-so-good feeling in your stomach may not be from the food you ate. Larger fibroids can push up against neighboring organs such as the bowel, which can lead to some unpleasant digestion issues.

“I often feel like I’m struggling to go to the bathroom or feel bloated. It makes me avoid eating certain foods, because I don’t want to have stomach issues.”

Frequent urination

We all pee. But fibroids can make it feel like you have to all the time. Subserosal fibroids, a fibroid which grows on the outer region of the uterus, can put pressure on the bladder resulting in incontinence and the constant urge to urinate.

“I feel like I’m running to the bathroom to go pee every hour. I stopped drinking a lot of water because I always feel like I have to pee right away.”

This is not medical advice, only physicians can provide personalized medical advice.

Symptoms Quiz

Fibroids are extremely common–up to 3 out of 4 women develop one or more fibroids in their lifetime. Often there are no symptoms. But for those women who experience symptomatic fibroids, it can be debilitating. It’s important to see a doctor to determine if you have fibroids and if the Acessa procedure may be right for you.

This brief quiz can help you determine if you have any of the common symptoms of fibroids.

Only a doctor can diagnose fibroids. This quiz is not a substitute for a physician’s evaluation or diagnosis.

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My periods are typically heavy-I’m often worried about leaking and have to change tampons/pads frequently.

My periods feel never ending-they can last longer than 7 days.

My periods are very painful-sometimes heating pads and painkillers don’t cut it.

I often feel bloated and uncomfortable around my lower stomach and pelvis.

I feel like I look pregnant even though I am not.

Sex has become physically painful for me.

I’ve been feeling pain in my back and legs.

I have to pee very frequently.

I’ve been having digestive issues.

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Thanks!

Based on your answers, you may have symptomatic fibroids.

But not to worry – you have options. Only a doctor can determine which option is right for you; you may want to consult with an Acessa-trained physician about your symptoms and see if you may be a candidate for the Acessa procedure.

For questions to ask your doctor, information about insurance support, and our physician finder, visit the Patient Resources page here

Thanks!

Based on your answers, it’s unclear what is causing your symptoms.

It might be fibroid related, something else, or a combination of factors.

We recommend that you make an appointment with your doctor to discuss your individual symptoms and get the appropriate exams for an accurate diagnosis.

Compare Treatment Options

Comparing treatments is complicated. The truth is, treatment decisions should be made with a physician and be driven by what’s most important to you (go get that second opinion if you feel like you need it!). Here’s an overview of common fibroid treatment options; keep in mind there are risks and benefits associated with every procedure, and not all procedures are right for every woman.

Acessa

Myomectomy

Hysterectomy

Hysteroscopic Myomectomy

UAE

The Acessa procedure utilizes a laparoscopic ultrasound probe and radiofrequency ablation to destroy fibroid tissue by applying controlled heat energy through a small needle array. The destroyed fibroid tissue changes consistency and shrinks over time.

A myomectomy is an advanced surgical procedure that cuts fibroids from the uterus. It can be performed open (abdominal incision) or minimally invasivelylaparoscopic (robotic or straight stick).

It is a surgical procedure that removes the entire uterus from the body. It can be performed open (abdominal incision), or minimally invasively-laparoscopic (robotic or straight stick), or hysteroscopic (through the vagina).

This procedure is performed by a physician inserting a small, lighted instrument through the vagina and cervix and into the uterus to cut out fibroids within the uterine cavity.

UAE, or Uterine Artery Embolization, also known as UFE, or Uterine Fibroid Embolization, is a fibroid treatment performed by an interventional radiologist where blood flow is cut off from the uterus causing fibroids to shrink and die.

Minimally Invasive

Identifies more fibroids 9

Addresses fibroids in all locations 1

Addresses bloating symptoms 1, 7

Addresses heavy periods 1, 7

Recovery Time7, 44

4-5 days 1

14-42 days 40

21-42 days 47

2-3 days 44

7-10 days 45,46

Acessa

Minimally Invasive

Identifies more fibroids 9

Addresses fibroids in all locations 1

Addresses bloating symptoms 1, 7

Addresses heavy periods 1, 7

Recovery Time7, 44

4-5 days 1

Fully Applies

Somewhat Applies

Does Not Apply

Not Applicable

Need more info on these procedures? Checkout our full treatment chart here.

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Still Have More Questions?

Check out our Frequently Asked Questions page to learn more.

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