Understanding Uterine fibroids
Uterine fibroids (also known as myoma, leiolyoma, fibromyoma) are benign tumors that attach themselves to the walls of the uterus. They affect almost 30% of women from ages 30-45. Problems with heavy bleeding and pain can occur when fibroids increase in size or quantity.
Types of Fibroids
There are different types of fibroids that are classified based upon their location on the uterus. Because there are different variations, it is possible for women to have multiple types of fibroids at one time. This can make it difficult to target the exact cause of the problem. The four most common types of uterine fibroids are: subserosal, intramural, submucosal, and pedunculated.
1.Subserosal: This type of fibroid develops underneath the serosa, or outer uterine layer. Subserosal fibroids are classified by the small bumps on the outer wall of the uterus that they produce. Often times, these fibroids cause pelvic pain as they enlarge.
2.Intramural: This is the most commonly occurring type of fibroid and is classified by growth in the muscular wall of the uterus. Intramural fibroids are commonly confused with pregnancy since they can cause the uterus to bloat. These fibroids can cause discomfort, frequent urination, or heavy menstrual bleeding.
3.Submucosal: These fibroids develop below the inner lining of the uterus and can impact blood vessels, causing abnormal bleeding and pelvic pain. Because of their location, submucosal fibroids can cause fertility problems if they grow too large and block the fallopian tubes. If left untreated, they can also cause anemia, extended menstrual periods, and chronic fatigue.
4.Pedunculated: This type of fibroid grows from a stalk outside the uterus. If it begins to twist and grow into the uterus, it can cause pelvic pain, pressure, and cramping.
Most women who have uterine fibroids are unaware since they experience mild to no symptoms. However, here are some possible symptoms to be aware of:
- Excessive Menstrual Bleeding: Excessive menstrual bleeding is characterized by periods lasting longer than seven days, the need to wear both tampons and pads, and having to change tampons and/or pads every 2 hours. This is one of the most typical signs of uterine fibroids, especially intramural and submucosal. Prolonged periods of excessive bleeding can also cause fatigue, anemia, and clotting.
- Pelvic Pain & Pressure: When fibroids increase in size, they can cause the uterus to bloat or place extra pressure on the uterus, causing pain in the pelvic region. Depending on the size of the fibroid or the amount it has caused the uterus to bloat, surrounding structures and organs can be compressed leading to feelings of discomfort or pressure.
- Urinary Incontinence: Since the uterus sits on top of the bladder, when it becomes bloated it exerts more pressure on the bladder. This additional pressure can cause unwanted leakage or even accidents.
- Constipation/bloating: Again, the uterus is nearby the colon and intestines, so when it bloats all these surrounding structures are affected. If the uterus is enlarged and is placing pressure on the intestines or colon, this could cause feelings of premature fullness, bloating, and constipation.
- Other symptoms: In addition to the above common symptoms, there are also other symptoms that can occur. These include: anemia, infertility, leg pain, painful intercourse, and abdominal swelling.
While the exact cause of uterine fibroids is unknown, a possible combination of factors can increase the risk of developing them. These factors include:
Weight: Overweight women have an increased chance of developing fibroids. It has also been found that a diet lacking fruits and vegetables or one that is high in red meat consumption can also increase the risk of fibroids.
Genetics: If there are other female family members affected by fibroids, the risk increases for an individual.
Ethnicity: African-American women have a higher risk of developing fibroids that develop earlier and can grow larger.
Age: Most fibroid cases are seen in women between the ages of 35-50. It is rare for fibroids to occur in a woman’s early twenties and menopause will cause the fibroids to stabilize or shrink.
Hormones: Since estrogen and progesterone are associated with both fibroids and childbearing, the elevated levels of these hormones that occur during childbearing years can increase the risk of fibroids.
Lifestyle: Alcohol consumption, lack of exercise, and toxins that affect the uterus can all increase the likelihood of developing fibroids.
Reproduction: Women who have never given birth are at a higher risk of developing fibroids. It is believed that pregnancy causes uterine changes after childbirth that naturally protect the uterus.
Uterine fibroids affect almost 30% of women from ages 30–45
Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE)
UFE is a minimally invasive procedure that alleviates fibroid symptoms by decreasing their size in a safe and effective way. UFE works by blocking blood flow to the fibroids, causing them to shrink and symptoms to be remedied. During a UFE procedure, a small “pinhole” incision is made in the groin or wrist area and a tiny catheter is inserted into the blood vessels surrounding the fibroids. Tiny particles pass through the catheter and into the artery, blocking off blood supply to the fibroid(s).
How Will UFE Change Your Life?
UFE allows you to seek relief from uterine fibroids without the need for invasive surgery or a hysterectomy. Some benefits of UFE include:
- Over 90% patient satisfaction
- FDA Approved
- No Scarring
- Less invasive and safer than surgery
- Decreases heavy menstrual bleeding and pain
- Back to work and daily activities 1 week after the procedure
- No hospitalization required, you go home on the same day.
- Minimal complications, if any
- You will maintain your uterus
Am I a Candidate?
If you are currently suffering from uterine fibroids and are seeking a safe, non-surgical alternative to traditional surgery or hysterectomy, UFE may be right for you. Give us a call to schedule a free consultation at MINT today!
Uterine Fibroid Embolization
Non-surgical minimally invasive procedure which requires a “pin hole” incision in your wrist or thigh
No general anesthesia required.
Just “twilight” sedation is needed.
Outpatient procedure – no hospital stay
1-2 week recovery
Preserves the uterus
Surgical procedure requiring one or more surgical scars depending on how it is performed
Average hospital stay is 2-3 days
2-6 week recovery
Some fibroids can weigh as much as 20–40 pounds
Dr. Goke Akinwande (Dr. A) is an extensively published, board certified leader in minimally invasive procedures. His training at prestigious institutions such as the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) and the Johns Hopkins Hospital, as well as his prior faculty position at Washington University/Barnes Jewish Hospital provided him the best foundation and ability to deliver optimum care to his patients. He has delivered presentations nationally and internationally and trained several medical students, residents and fellows. Dr. A believes in compassionate evidenced based medicine and is proud to provide this service to the community. Dr. A’s core practice is rooted in increasing patient education and awareness, reducing health care disparities and improving access to care.
The Fibroid center at MINT is St. Louis first and only comprehensive center dedicated to the treatment of Uterine Fibroids. We are also the first outpatient center to offer a non-surgical treatment for uterine fibroids. Ask us about UFE treatment today!
At MINT we put patient convenience as our highest priority. We truly believe in compassionate and evidence based medicine. We have 3 convenient locations and we will be adding more in the future. Sometimes, we are contacted my patients that live very far away. For those patients, we provide access to telemedicine so that we can perform the entire initial consultation at your place of convenience. Call us today to schedule a visit or telemedicine consultation. You can also request an online consultation.
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