Fibroids (aka leiomyoma or myoma) are benign growths that emerge in the wall of your uterus, inside your uterine cavity, or on the outer surface of your uterus. Fibroids are made of uterine muscle fiber cells and other cells, and range in size from microscopic to the size of a grapefruit. In most cases, fibroids aren’t a serious health condition and don’t cause cancer, but they may impair your fertility or cause unpleasant symptoms.
If you’re one of the 70-80% of women in the United States who develop uterine fibroids in their lifetime, experienced OB/GYNs Daniel McDyer, MD, FACOG, and Julian Stephen Suhrer, MD, help you decide whether they need to be treated or not. Most therapies for uterine fibroids can be conducted in the safety and privacy of either of their two Florida Woman Care of Jacksonville offices in Jacksonville, Florida.
How to find out if you have fibroids
Although fibroids are common, most women who have them don’t realize it. However, if you have symptoms such as menstrual cramping, heavy bleeding, or trouble getting pregnant, your OB/GYN may order an ultrasound to determine if fibroids are complicating your situation. You may have fibroids if you experience symptoms such as:
- Enlarged lower abdomen
- Feeling of fullness in lower abdomen
- Increased urge to urinate
- Painful sex
- Lower back pain
- Pain or pressure in rectum
- Pain during menstruation
- Heavy menstrual bleeding
If your fibroids are large, they may make it difficult to become pregnant or carry a pregnancy to full term. You may ask your OB/GYN to evaluate you for fibroids if the women in your family tend to have them and you’re thinking about becoming pregnant. Fibroids may raise your risk for a C-section delivery by up to six times.
Testing for fibroids
When you come in for your annual well-woman exam, Dr. McDyer or Dr. Suhrer conducts a pelvic exam that feels for abnormalities, including fibroids. If they detect a mass that they think is a fibroid or another type of tumor, they order advanced imaging tests, such as:
- Lab tests
Rarely, your OB/GYN may order a biopsy for a fibroid if they suspect it could be a different kind of tumor, such as the cancerous leiomyosarcoma. Leiomyosarcomas affect only 1 in 1,000 women with fibroids.
How to treat your fibroids
If your fibroids are small and aren’t causing any symptoms, Drs. McDyer and Suhrer usually recommend a watch-and-wait approach. When you’re nearing menopause, for instance, your fibroids will probably shrink on their own as your hormones change.
When you’re younger, untreated fibroids usually grow over time, but as long as they’re not causing you pain or discomfort, or complicating your desire to have a baby, you probably don’t have to remove them. Some fibroid symptoms can be controlled with hormonal therapy, including various types of birth control.
When your fibroids are in an early stage, or if you’re planning to have surgery to remove them, your OB/GYN may recommend gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists (GnRHa), such as the drug Lupron®, to shrink them. Lupron can create symptoms that mimic menopause, including stopping your period, which is why it’s only used for short periods or just before surgery.
You and your OB/GYN may decide that removing fibroids will improve your symptoms or increase your chances of a normal, healthy pregnancy. Depending on your case, Dr. McDyer or Dr. Suhrer might recommend:
- Endometrial ablation — destruction of uterine lining
- Myomectomy — surgical removal of fibroids
- Myolysis — laser removal of small fibroids
- Hysterectomy — surgical removal of uterus
- Fibroid embolization
To find out if you have fibroids or need treatment for your fibroids, contact us today by phoning the nearest office or using the online message form.