Are you one of the many women who suffer with uterine fibroids — commonly benign, muscular tumors that develop on your uterine wall? Fibroids are very common, with 20-80% of women experiencing them before age 50.
Since some women experience no noticeable symptoms, you might not even be aware if you have them. On the other hand, you might be plagued with heavy bleeding during your period, intense pain, and other symptoms.
Dr. Pamela Kimbrough has valuable experience treating all types of gynecological issues, including uterine fibroids. At Life’s Cycle Women, we are dedicated to patient-centered, customized, safe treatment.
Why do uterine fibroids form?
Unfortunately, we don’t know the exact cause or causes of uterine fibroids, though research points to genetics and the hormones estrogen and progesterone.
Fibroids vary greatly in size, so you can go for years not knowing you have them, and they can also disappear, for example, after you have a baby. They can stop growing or shrink after menopause, as well.
What should I be concerned about if I have fibroids?
There are several worrisome factors associated with fibroids:
1. Fertility and pregnancy
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 a 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 birth (abruption).
The important thing is to be monitored carefully by a skilled obstetrician/gynecologist, like Dr. Kimbrough.
2. Fibroid-related anemia
Since fibroids can cause very heavy bleeding during your menstrual cycle, as well as spotting in between periods, some women become anemic.
Aside from causing fatigue, headaches, and loss of energy, anemia can affect your heart and lead to serious problems like chest pain, arrhythmia (when the heart beats irregularly, too slowly, or too quickly), and even cardiovascular disease.
3. Period problems
In addition to abnormal or heavy bleeding, fibroids can cause you to have unusually lengthy 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.
4. Urinary and gastrointestinal troubles
If your fibroid is very large (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.
How can my fibroids be treated?
You may be unaware of a fibroid until Dr. Kimbrough spots 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. Kimbrough offers multiple effective treatments depending size of your fibroid and severity of your symptoms:
- Prescription medications that slow fibroid growth by blocking estrogen
- Prescription medications that contain progestin, which helps regulate bleeding
- Fibroid embolization, a minimally invasive procedure that cuts off the fibroid’s blood supply, making them shrink
- Radiofrequency ablation, another minimally invasive treatment that causes the fibroid to shrink with the use of heat
- Laparoscopic, where tools are inserted through a slim surgical tube
- Robotic surgery (Dr. Kimbrough controls the movements)
The advantage of minimally invasive and robotic surgery
Dr. Kimbrough uses the da Vinci® robotic platform to better visualize your surgical site and target his movements more exactly.
Minimally invasive surgery offers significant benefits as compared with traditional open surgery, including:
- Smaller incisions
- Faster healing
- Less scarring
- Reduced pain
- Lower risk for infection
Dr. Kimbrough welcomes all the questions you may have about fibroids and also counsels you about what you can do to lower your risk, such as eating a diet that contains plenty of fruits and vegetables, drinking alcohol in moderation, and if necessary, losing weight.
Call our Norman or Ardmore office to schedule an appointment to learn more about Viveve, or reach out to us through our website.