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Uterine Fibroids: To Treat or Not To Treat?

Jess* learned a few months ago that she has several uterine fibroids that may need to be addressed at some point. Her gynecologist first noticed them during a routine pelvic exam and later confirmed with diagnostic tests. The good news was that none of these non-cancerous tumors were causing her any discomfort—even though they were located in different spots and ranged in size from a blueberry to as large as a plum. But Jess often wonders if the mere fact that she has fibroids means she should have them treated or removed. To treat or not to treat? That’s the question many women and their doctors ponder once they’ve been diagnosed with fibroids. Perhaps you’re in the same boat as Jess and are debating treatment.

The short answer is that it depends on your unique situation. While researchers estimate that 70 to 80% of all women develop fibroids between 35 and 54, their journeys are far from cookie-cutter. Some have uncomfortable symptoms from the start, while others are asymptomatic or only experience mild symptoms. Those with no symptoms may stay that way or change over time. If you’ve been diagnosed with uterine fibroids or think you may have them, how do you know when it’s time to seek treatment?

Are you concerned about uterine fibroids and wish to speak to an expert fibroid doctor?

Schedule a consult at Fibroid Institute Texas, with locations in Dallas and Houston.

Here’s How To Know When To Treat Fibroids

1. Track your symptoms

Just because you have fibroids doesn’t mean they must be treated. In many cases where a patient has asymptomatic fibroids, and there isn’t cause for any additional complications, their OB-GYN might recommend a “wait and see” approach. And this is a completely acceptable answer. You could go many years without experiencing any symptoms or complications related to pregnancy, your menstrual cycle, overall health, etc. If you start noticing changes in your menstrual cycle that aren’t what you’re used to, or you begin experiencing pain that disrupts your life, you may want to consider seeking treatment. Common uterine fibroid symptoms run the gamut and can include any of the following:

  • Heavy menstrual bleeding
  • Debilitating cramps, pelvic pain, and pressure
  • Periods that last longer than a week
  • Pain during sex
  • Back or leg pain
  • Urinary frequency
  • Weight gain or bloating and swelling in the abdomen
  • Constipation, diarrhea, and rectum discomfort
  • Excessive fatigue
fibroid treatment uterine fibroids pain woman

2. Be mindful of fibroid location and size

While many women don’t know they have uterine fibroids or simply aren’t experiencing symptoms, fibroids can grow, multiply, and develop at different locations in and around the uterus. As a result, fibroids that pop up in certain locations may cause increasingly painful uterine fibroid symptoms over time and a host of other consequences that interrupt your daily life. Your gynecologist can determine if you have uterine fibroids through an ultrasound. If you are diagnosed with fibroids, getting an MRI is the best way to reveal the size, location, and number of fibroids you may have. From there, you and your doctor can establish a treatment plan based on your personal and medical needs. Even if immediate treatment isn’t necessary, knowing the location of your fibroids may provide insight into your uterine fibroid symptoms and help you make more informed decisions. The Office on Women’s Health lists four main types of fibroids depending on location.

fibroid treatment types of uterine fibroids
  1. Intramural fibroids: These grow inside the muscles of the uterine wall, causing issues with uterine function. This is the most common fibroid type, affecting one in four of all women of childbearing age.
  2. Submucosal fibroids: These uterine fibroid types protrude underneath the uterine lining and into the uterine cavity, causing issues with uterine function while also causing heavy bleeding during menstruation and increased abdominal pain for many women.
  3. Subserosal fibroids: These tend to grow just outside the uterine walls and ultimately can impact surrounding organs. As a result, these can put pressure on the bladder, bowels, and abdomen.
  4. Pedunculated fibroids: These uterine fibroids hang by a thin thread or stalk inside or outside the uterus. These are more likely to cause pain in the abdominal area due to obstruction of the uterus and organs.

3. Consider your age

Fibroids feed off hormones that the ovaries release, namely estrogen and progesterone. As a result, uterine fibroids can continue to grow until you go through menopause, and sometimes even after. If you are a young woman in your 30s and already have large fibroids, you may want to take care of them before they get bigger and more difficult to treat. If you are in your 50s and can tolerate your symptoms, one option is to wait and see if they shrink after menopause. However, if you have anemia due to extreme bleeding or symptoms that interfere with your daily life, it may be time to think about finding treatment for your fibroids.

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4. Take family planning into account

Uterine fibroids can make it difficult for you to get pregnant. In addition, they can increase your chances of a difficult pregnancy or miscarriage. However, it’s important to note that while many women develop fibroids in their lifetime, only 20% have symptoms. Therefore, pregnancy complications resulting from fibroids are generally not an issue. That said, you and your spouse may decide that eliminating fibroids from the equation altogether is the best option for you. If that’s the case, two procedures can remove or shrink fibroids and still allow you to get pregnant:

  • Myomectomy: In simple terms, a myomectomy removes fibroids from the uterus while leaving the uterus in place. This can sometimes be performed through the vagina, but it usually involves surgical incisions in the abdomen or pelvis. The number, size, and positions of the fibroids determine whether they can be removed laparoscopically through several small incisions or whether a larger incision is required. Approximately 30,000 myomectomy surgeries are performed annually. Many patients say they no longer experience fibroid pain and symptoms. The typical recovery time is 2-6 weeks. However, it eliminates the ability to have a vaginal birth in the future. Most gynecologists insist on C-section after myomectomy.
  • Uterine Fibroid Embolization: Sometimes, a woman is not considered a good candidate for surgery. Or she is unwilling to have surgery. In these situations, and others, UFE comes to the rescue as it is commonly used to treat symptoms of fibroids without surgery. The best part is that it is 90% effective. UFE shrinks fibroids and offers quicker recovery time—all while ridding you of fibroid pain. A few additional advantages of UFE include no hospital stay, a shorter recovery period, no incisions, no scarring, and a reduction in uterine fibroid symptoms.

Wondering “is UFE right for me?”

Download a free checklist to see if you are a candidate for fibroid treatment without surgery.

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Treat Uterine Fibroids or Not? We Can Help!

Uterine fibroids can cause painful and life-altering symptoms for many women, especially as they get larger and put more pressure on your uterus. That said, there’s no hard and fast rule that you should remove or treat your uterine fibroids immediately after diagnosis. You may find that you aren’t experiencing any fibroid symptoms. And if this is the case, perhaps a wait-and-see approach will work best for you. If you experience symptoms later in life or are experiencing them now, please visit us at Fibroid Institute Texas. We are dedicated to treating fibroids using Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE), the gold standard in non-surgical fibroid treatment. 

Our fibroid doctors are board-certified interventional radiologists and experts who are passionate about helping women become #FibroidFree. Fibroid Institute provides highly experienced UFE specialists, 100% focused on fibroid issues.

With each UFE procedure, patients realize they don’t have to be limited by fibroid symptoms or lengthy recovery times. Are you a candidate? Request a free 10-15 minute phone screening find out. After the screening, if you qualify for UFE, you can schedule your onsite or telehealth consultation. Most major medical insurance providers cover the cost of UFE.

We are dedicated to helping you become #FibroidFree. Get started now with Fibroid Institute Dallas at 214-838-6440 or with Fibroid Institute Houston at 713-903-3733 or complete the form below.

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Fibroid Institute Texas serves the Dallas and Houston areas including Houston, Sugar Land, Katy, Webster, The Woodlands, Universal City, Spring, Kingwood, Stafford, Conroe, Texas City, Cypress, League City, Bellaire, Addison, Carrollton, Plano, Frisco, McKinney, Allen, Fort Worth, Grand Prairie, HEB, Arlington, Hutchins, Irving, Duncanville, DeSoto, Cedar Hill, Lancaster, Cockrell Hill, Highland Park, University Park, Park Cities, Garland, Mesquite, Richardson, Dallas, Sherman, and more.

This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Prior to starting any new treatment or if you have questions regarding a medical condition, always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified health provider.

*Patient stories are true. Names and/or photos may be changed to protect patient confidentiality.


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