Uterine fibroids are muscular tumors that develop on the uterine wall? They are extremely common — between 20-80% of women develop them before age 50 — and most often benign.
Some women with fibroids don’t experience any symptoms, and therefore don’t realize they even have them. Yet others suffer intense pain and heavy periods.
Board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist Dr. Peter Khamvongsa and his team at The Miami Institute of Urogynecology and Minimally Invasive Surgery are experts in diagnosing and treating uterine fibroids. They offer the following overview.
Though exactly how and why fibroids develop is not entirely understood, research suggests genetics and the hormones estrogen and progesterone.
Fibroids vary in size substantially. For that reason, women can go for years not realizing they have uterine fibroids. Also, fibroids sometimes also disappear on their own or stop growing post-menopause.
There are several problematic factors associated with fibroids:
Since fibroids often affect women in their childbearing years, fibroids can affect fertility, pregnancy, and birth. Submucosal fibroids are fibroids that grow into your uterine cavity and can either pose problems if you’re trying to conceive or put you at risk for pregnancy loss. However, most women with fibroids do get pregnant.
Most women with fibroids have perfectly normal births, but you should still know the risks. When you’re pregnant with fibroids, they can cause your labor to stall, make it necessary to have a C-section or lead to premature birth. There’s also a greater chance that your baby will be breech (feet first), or your placenta will separate from your uterine wall before delivery (abruption).
The important thing is to be monitored carefully by a skilled obstetrician/gynecologist like Dr. Kimbrough.
Since fibroids can cause very heavy bleeding during your menstrual cycle and spotting in between periods, some women become anemic.
Aside from causing fatigue, headaches, and energy loss, anemia can affect your heart and lead to severe problems like chest pain, arrhythmia (when the heart beats irregularly, too slowly, or too quickly), and even cardiovascular disease.
In addition to abnormal or heavy bleeding, fibroids can cause you to have unusually long periods of over a week, along with pelvic pain and pressure that may accompany your period or emerge independently. These symptoms are both uncomfortable and inconvenient.
If your fibroid is huge (a fibroid can enlarge a woman’s uterus to as much as ten times its standard size), it may cause you to look bloated or pregnant and even put pressure on your bladder so that you need to urinate more often. A large fibroid can also cause constipation.
Other symptoms that fibroids bring on that are difficult to live with are overall abdominal pressure, lower back pain, and discomfort during sex.
You may be unaware of a fibroid until Dr. Khamvongsaspots it during your well-woman exam or via pelvic ultrasound. If he does discover fibroids, he may just recommend that you track anything unusual that happens with your cycle or be on the lookout for any other symptoms.
Dr. Khamvongsa offers multiple effective treatments depending on the size of your fibroid and the severity of your symptoms:
Dr. Khamvongsauses the da Vinci® robotic platform to visualize your surgical site better and target his actions more exactly.
Minimally invasive surgery offers significant benefits as compared with traditional open surgery, including:
To learn more about preventing and treating uterine fibroids, call our office at 786-220-8664or request an appointment online from the comfort of your home.