Learning more about Fibroid Treatment…
The topic of fibroids and fibroid treatment is often surrounded with uncertainty that creates misconceptions. How do I know if I have endometriosis or fibroids? What’s the difference between fibroids and polyps? How do they impact pregnancy? Or, are they cancerous? When looking at the fibroid treatment options, there are two: uterine fibroid embolisation and surgery.
Read on to become clearer…
Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous, benign growths of the uterus that often appear during childbearing years (usually between 20-55 years). There are various types of fibroids, ranging in size, single or multiple, and in some cases, they expand the uterus. Around 3 out of 4 women have uterine fibroids sometime during their lives, but most are unaware of them because there are often no symptoms of uterine fibroids.
Fibroids can easily be identified on a sonar scan of the womb and the symptoms of uterine fibroids range from heavy menstrual bleeding, frequent urination, to constipation. Rarely, a fibroid can cause acute pain and fever when it outgrows its blood supply.
What is Uterine Fibroid Embolisation?
Uterine Fibroid Embolisation is the alternative to surgical removal of fibroids, being the minimally invasive, non-surgical option. The uterus is preserved which makes pregnancy possible after treatment. An interventional radiologist uses minimally invasive methods with a small catheter inserted into the femoral artery at the level of the groin, under local anaesthesia. Under imaging guidance, the interventional radiologist will enter selectively into both uterine arteries and inject small particles that will block the blood supply to the fibroids, which prevents further growth as well as heavy bleeding.
There are different types of fibroid treatment, but Fibroid Care specialises in uterine fibroid embolisation (UFE).
Other fibroid treatment options?
Fibroid Care only offers the minimally-invasive Uterine Fibroid Embolisation as fibroid treatment, however, there are other forms of surgery available. Open surgery on fibroids is an invasive option for fibroid treatment, such as Myomectomy and Hysterectomy.
A myomectomy is a form of surgery where the doctor would remove fibroids without taking out the healthy tissue of the uterus. It is performed by making an incision in the abdomen, under general anaesthesia. There are high-risk factors such as longer recovery, blood loss, and infection.
A hysterectomy is the removal of the uterus and other pelvic organs, also through an incision in the abdomen. This form of surgery would then result in women not being able to become pregnant. Hysterectomy surgery has the same high-risk factors as myomectomy surgery.
Is endometriosis the same as fibroids?
It is important to differentiate between the two. Fibroids are non-cancerous growths inside the womb and can cause symptoms similar to endometriosis – pain and heavy periods.
Endometriosis is a condition where the tissue, part of the lining of the womb, grows outside of the womb. This tissue grows in the tummy, on the ovaries, and on other areas. Endometriosis is diagnosed by a doctor through laparoscopy and is treated with medication or surgery.
Are fibroids cancerous?
Fibroids are not cancerous. It is important to get your pap smear done regularly to test for any abnormalities that might be cancerous.
Fibroids or polyps?
Fibroids and polyps are very similar growths which are made up of muscle and fibrous tissue. They both are situated in the uterus, and often cause bleeding, difficulty in falling pregnant and recurring pregnancies. The difference between the two is that polyps are tumours of the uterine lining while fibroids are tumours of the uterine muscle tissue. Both fibroids and polyps are diagnosed by examination such as a scan but polyps are only treatable by surgery.
How can fibroids affect pregnancy?
Some women are concerned that having fibroids will impact the likelihood of falling pregnant. However, many women fall pregnant while having fibroids and have a normal pregnancy. The fibroids would only become a problem in pregnancy when there are many of them. Fibroids would also be a problem if they grow inside the womb (where the baby grows). In this case, some women fall pregnant with fibroids and then have a miscarriage due to the fibroids. Some women also learn about their fibroids when they have a c-section and can then proceed with the necessary treatments.
It is, therefore, possible for us to check for the abnormalities during pregnancies in order to have a normal pregnancy.
Ultimately, fibroids are manageable and should not be a cause for concern. See fibroidcare.co.za for more information on fibroid treatment and fibroid embolization in South Africa. Send us an email on firstname.lastname@example.org or make an appointment here.