If you or someone you love suspects they have fibroids — primarily benign tumors that grow on the uterus — or they’ve received a definitive diagnosis, it’s important to get the facts about them straight. Some of those facts may surprise you.
The extraordinary care team at Garden State Women’s Center provides expert diagnostic care and treatment for patients concerned about fibroids, and they do so with a caring touch. This is just part of the wide range of advanced OB/GYN care that Garden State Women’s Center offers the women of Hackensack and the surrounding areas of Bergen County, New Jersey.
Important — and possibly unexpected — fibroid facts
The basics on fibroids are that they affect many, many women — about 77% of women experience them, most often during their childbearing years — and that their causes are unclear, although we are aware of a few risk factors, such as having a family history of fibroids, obesity, and high blood pressure.
Estrogen promotes the growth of fibroids, and their diverse symptoms include heavy or long periods, bleeding between periods, pelvic or lower back pain, and painful intercourse. You might also notice a feeling of fullness or discomfort in your abdomen and bladder or bowel symptoms, such as needing to urinate more frequently or feeling constipated.There are lesser known facts about fibroids that are nevertheless important to know, since they could make you suspect fibroids when you wouldn’t have otherwise, or prompt you to seek treatment sooner than you would have if you hadn’t been familiar with them.
5 important things to know about fibroids
1. Fibroids are overwhelmingly benign
Anytime we hear the word “tumor,” it’s a scary thing, and our minds turn to cancer.
The good news about fibroids is that over 99% of them are noncancerous.
2. Fibroids can affect fertility and pregnancy
Fibroids can pose fertility challenges, depending on their location. For example, if a fibroid protrudes toward the middle of the uterus, it can hinder implantation of an embryo in the uterine lining. Fortunately, having fibroids doesn’t pose an impediment to getting fertility treatment.
If you’re pregnant and have fibroids, there’s a great chance you can have a normal pregnancy. Again, the location of your fibroid(s), as well as the number you have and their size, can impact your pregnancy and may lead to premature delivery or needing to have a C-section. There’s a link between fibroids and miscarriage as well, so it’s important to speak with your doctor if you have fibroids and are thinking of becoming pregnant or if you’re expecting now.
Sometimes fibroids can grow during pregnancy, which also puts you at risk for premature delivery or pregnancy loss — another reason why getting excellent prenatal care is key.
3. Black women have higher rates of fibroids, are diagnosed with them earlier, and require treatment more often
We don’t understand exactly why this is so, but if you’re Black, talk to your Garden State Women’s Center doctor about checking you for them or, if you’re experiencing symptoms, get treatment promptly.
4. Fibroids develop differently in everyone
Some women have fibroids and don’t even know it. They have no symptoms, and the fibroids might be minute and only discovered during a pelvic exam. Other women’s fibroids can grow to grapefruit size and they can be plagued with many uncomfortable symptoms requiring treatment.
5. A variety of fibroid treatments is available
Surgical removal isn’t the only treatment option for fibroids. Depending on your situation, your doctor might recommend waiting and watching your fibroids to see if symptoms develop or if they'll grow.
Another line of treatment involves medications. Over-the-counter pain relievers can help fibroid symptoms, and prescription medications that impact your hormones are also available. These include birth control pills and anti-hormone medications like gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists.
If your doctor does recommend surgical removal of the fibroids, they will take your symptoms, life stage, and other factors into consideration. Surgical options include:
- Hysterectomy (removal of the uterus)
- Myolysis (a current sent to the fibroid that freezes it)
- Myomectomy (removal of the fibroid)
- Uterine artery embolization (cutting blood flow to the fibroid, which shrinks it and provides relief)
- Endometrial ablation (removal of the uterine lining)
When you undergo a surgical procedure, we perform it whenever possible using minimally invasive techniques, which require only very small incisions. Minimally invasive procedures are associated with faster healing and reduced pain, bleeding, and scarring.
Don’t hesitate to seek treatment if you think you may be experiencing fibroid symptoms. Call the Garden State Women’s Center office in Hackensack, New Jersey, at 201-228-9596 to schedule an appointment with us, or use our convenient online booking tool.