It’s scary to hear that you have a pelvic tumor, but in the case of uterine fibroids, more women have them than don’t. Experts estimate that around 70% of women have fibroids by the time they are 45 years old.
Dr. Marsha Bornt and her staff at Apple Hill Gynecology have treated women who had no idea they even had fibroids as well as women who had fibroids that caused serious symptoms such as pelvic pain. The size and location of the fibroids, as well as whether or not they cause symptoms, are important factors that Dr. Bornt considers when she suggests a treatment plan for your uterine fibroids.
Uterine fibroids defined
Another name for a uterine fibroid is leiomyoma, and they are noncancerous growths. They occur in the smooth muscle tissue of your uterus, sometimes inside and sometimes on the outside. Fibroids can be very small—seedlings—to large masses that distort the shape of your abdomen.
There are three types of uterine fibroids, and they are classified based on where they grow:
- Intramural - within the wall of your uterus
- Submucosal - they project from the wall of your uterus into the cavity
- Subserosal - grow on the outside wall of your uterus
Women who have only one or a few small fibroids may only find out if Dr. Bornt discovers them during a routine annual exam. Other women have symptoms.
Around 25% of white women and 50% of Black women who have uterine fibroids have symptoms. Some symptoms include:
- Abnormal bleeding—heavier periods, longer periods, or bleeding between periods
- Pelvic pain or a feeling of pressure
- Lower back pain and/or leg pain
- Urinary tract problems
In some rare instances, uterine fibroids can cause infertility or anemia.
Treating uterine fibroids
Most women don’t need treatment for uterine fibroids, and sometimes, they go away on their own. Fibroids are sensitive to estrogen. Some women have fibroids during pregnancy, but the growths shrink after all the hormonal changes are resolved. After menopause, it’s possible for fibroids to shrink.
If Dr. Bornt finds uterine fibroids, she’s likely to suggest a watch and wait approach, which means when she will check to see if there’s growth when you come in for routine exams, and she’ll ask you to pay attention to any potential symptoms. As long as the fibroids aren’t causing problems, you don’t likely need treatment.
If you’re experiencing symptoms because of your fibroids, the best treatment plan depends on a complex set of factors, including whether or not you’re trying to become pregnant or you want to in the future, what the symptoms are, and your age, among others.
Symptoms that could be uterine fibroids, such as abnormal bleeding or pelvic pain, should be investigated, as they could all have different underlying causes. Schedule your visit at Apple Hill Gynecology today to begin finding out why you have any uncomfortable symptoms.