July is Fibroids Awareness Month
According to USA Fibroid Centers, 12 hysterectomies are performed in the United States every 10 minutes. Up to 9 percent of those procedures were medically unnecessary.
A hysterectomy is the surgical removal of a woman’s uterus or womb. After this procedure, a woman no longer has menstrual periods and cannot become pregnant. Depending on the patient’s personal medical needs, the ovaries and fallopian tubes are also removed during surgery. Many women suffering from uterine fibroid symptoms opt for this procedure because they are unaware of less invasive procedures that would preserve their reproductive systems and fertility. July is Fibroids Awareness Month and offers the perfect opportunity to bring awareness to a critical women’s health condition that impacts so many.
What are Uterine Fibroids?
Fibroids are benign (non-cancerous) muscle tumors of the uterus that can cause heavy menstrual bleeding, pain, bowel or bladder problems, and infertility. Fibroids may not bring about any noticeable symptoms for some women, but in addition to heavy bleeding, many women experience back pain, frequent urination, and pain during intercourse. Although these growths typically shrink or resolve themselves after menopause, fibroids are the leading cause of hysterectomy in the United States for symptomatic women. It is worth mentioning that research shows that fibroids are more likely to shrink in postmenopausal white women than in postmenopausal black women.
Doctors do not know the exact cause of uterine fibroids, but research points to genetic changes, hormones, and other growth factors as potential contributing factors.
Uterine Fibroid Risk Factors
- Age (older women are at higher risk)
- African American race
- Family history of uterine fibroids
- High blood pressure
- No history of pregnancy
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Consumption of food additives and soybean milk
Uterine Fibroid Symptoms
- Heavy bleeding
- Pelvic pain
- Frequent urination
- Pain and pressure in your lower extremity
Uterine Fibroid Treatments
- Medications that target hormones
- Uterine artery embolization
- Radiofrequency ablation
- Laparoscopic or robotic myomectomy
- Hysteroscopic myomectomy
- Endometrial ablation
- Abdominal myomectomy
Roseman University Communications & Project Specialist Candace Smith was diagnosed with uterine fibroids in 2013 after suffering a miscarriage at 6 weeks. She experienced a second miscarriage at 6 weeks in 2017.
“Before my diagnosis, I assumed painful and heavy bleeding, bloating and pelvic pain were all normal aspects of the female experience,” she shared.
Candace entertained the idea of surgical removal through myomectomy but focused on her diet until she had time to explore all of her options.
“Many of my symptoms subsided after changing my diet to one that limits my intake of estrogens and phytoestrogens. The treatments available to me, even the lesser invasive procedures, posed a threat to my ability to have a child in the future. With that, added to the strong likelihood that my fibroids would return after myomectomy, I was fortunate that I was largely asymptomatic and had more time to decide on my best option for treatment.”
With her fibroid still intact, Candace gave birth to her first child in November of 2020. Although her pregnancy and delivery were both free of any real complications, Candace’s fibroid grew to 18cm.
“My pregnancy was pretty painful, but I’m extremely grateful that I was able to carry my child to 39 weeks and deliver her without needing a C-Section. I did need two blood transfusions as a result of severe blood loss, but my daughter was born perfectly healthy and ready to take on the world.”
Now 7 months postpartum, Candace is currently interviewing doctors to discuss her options for surgery.
Let Us Help You
The field of medicine is dynamic and ever-involving, and what we know about fibroids grows and changes as well. Roseman Medical Group, the clinical practice of Roseman University of Health Sciences offers family medicine, neurology, and pediatric nephrology. Our physicians, nurses, and medical staff provide empathic, patient-centered, evidence-based medicine and are among the best in their fields. If you would like to discuss any issues related to women’s health like uterine fibroids, our qualified team of professionals is ready to assist you.