Here are the most important questions to ask your doctor if you think you may be suffering from uterine fibroids.
Women over 35 are more at risk for developing fibroids than younger women. The risk for developing fibroids increases with age, but many fibroids begin to shrink after menopause1.
African American women have a three-fold risk of developing fibroids compared to white women. African American women are also more likely to develop fibroids at a younger age and suffer from severe fibroids2.
So what causes fibroids?
Uterine fibroids appear to be caused by the hormones estrogen and progesterone. These hormones are responsible for triggering the growth of the uterine lining during the menstrual cycle.
Pelvic pain is the most common symptom of fibroids. Heavy or prolonged menstrual periods that contain clots are also common in women with fibroids.
Other common fibroid symptoms include:
- Pelvic pressure
- Pain in your legs and back
- Pressure on your bladder that leads to frequent urination
- Bloating, an enlarged abdomen and constipation.
Depending on the size, number and location of fibroids in the uterus, symptoms may change or worsen.
Fortunately, only about 20 percent of women who have uterine fibroids experience negative symptoms.
The majority of women who are affected by fibroids do not experience severe symptoms and do not require treatment.
However, for about 20 percent of these women, their fibroids can cause severe pain, discomfort and abnormal menstrual periods that disrupt their lives.
Ultrasound and MRI are used in the diagnosis of uterine fibroids. Both imaging tests are non-invasive and painful.
An ultrasound is generally the first diagnostic tool used to check for uterine fibroids. Once they have been located, an MRI will give your doctor a better look at the size and positioning of your fibroids. Most fibroids grow on the uterine wall, but some can grow into the uterine cavity.
Once your doctor determines the size and location of your fibroids, you can select the most effective treatment for your symptoms.
Finding the right treatment option for fibroids depends on the size and placement of the fibroids. Small uterine fibroids may require no treatment at all.
For many women, a non-surgical procedure called uterine fibroid embolization--also known as uterine artery embolization--can effectively treat fibroids and ease symptoms.
With this treatment, the patient is sedated but does not have to undergo general anesthesia. A tiny incision is made, which allows the doctor to place a catheter into the femoral artery. This catheter releases tiny particles into the uterine arteries that feed the tumor. These particles block the flow of blood to the uterine fibroids. Over time, the fibroids shrink and eventually disappear.
If you have any additional questions about uterine fibroids, feel free to contact Dr. Carson at 770-506-4007 today to make an appointment with Georgia Vascular Institute. We have several locations in the metro Atlanta area including Atlanta, Stockbridge and Camp Creek.