So, you’ve just found out that you have fibroids – don’t panic! Here’s what you need to know right now:
1. Fibroids are benign (noncancerous) tumors that grow inside the uterus. According to research, approximately 1 in 5 women will develop fibroids during their childbearing years.
2. Fibroids take years to develop/grow but there are warning signs:
- Have you noticed that you’ve become lethargic lately?
- Are you out of breath after climbing a short flight of stairs?
- Have you been bleeding a lot more than normal during your menstrual cycle?
- Is your menstrual cycle lasting longer than usual?
- Is there abdominal swelling?
- Do you have back pain?
- Is there unexplainable weight gain?
- Are you urinating frequently?
3. Anemia: Iron deficiency is common among women with fibroids and your doctor will insist that you begin taking supplements immediately.
4. Iron and vitamin C: Vitamin C helps the body absorb iron so it’s important that you take these two together. To that end, why not have a glass of orange juice with your iron supplement? Or, why not make lemonade, but instead of using sugar use blackstrap molasses?
5. Distended abdomen: This is where things start to get ugly. It’s bad enough that you are now, probably anemic, having back pains, bleeding uncontrollably, etc. There’s one more surprise waiting for you. As the fibroids grow, your uterus will expand and your abdomen will become distended – that is, you will look like you’re pregnant. Say goodbye to your waistline.
6. Bloating: Another common symptom of fibroids. It’s important that you listen to your body to discover the pattern. In my case, it usually begins at least one week before my cycle commences and ends a few days after.
7. Fibroids are not life threatening.
8. Fibroids are more common than you think – mention it to a few of your friends and you’ll be surprised at how many have been suffering in silence.
9. No one knows for sure why fibroids develop.
10. Treatment options:
- Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE): This is a minimally invasive procedure that blocks blood supply to the fibroids by inserting a catheter into the uterine arteries. The entire treatment typically lasts less than an hour and the patient is required to remain in the hospital for another 24 hours for observation. To learn more, see: http://www.ask4ufe.com/howUfeHelps/ufeProcedure.cfm
- Myomectomy: In this operation, the surgeon removes the fibroids leaving the uterus intact. Note that with this procedure, fibroid regrowth may occur.
- Hysterectomy: This is a surgical procedure in which the uterus is removed – an option for women who have no desire to become pregnant.
- MR Guided Focused Ultrasound: This is a non-invasive, outpatient procedure in which high doses of focused ultrasound waves are used to destroy uterine fibroids.