Not all uterine fibroids are alike. And that means that treating them will not look the same for everyone either. Here are a few ways in which fibroids, and symptoms of fibroids, can differ from woman to woman:
Area of Growth
All uterine fibroids are noncancerous growths in the uterus. However, where they are located can vary. For example, submucosal fibroids grow inside the uterine cavity. Intramural fibroids grow within the uterine wall. And subserosal fibroids grow outside the uterus.
“Fibroids arise from normal uterine cells which mutate and then grow in an abnormal way,” said Dr. James Spies MD MPH, Professor, Chairman and Chief of Service of the Department of Radiology at Georgetown University School of Medicine. “They’re benign tumors, but as they grow, they can cause symptoms, and these symptoms vary depending on the location of the fibroids within the uterus. They can affect everywhere from the inner portion of the uterus to the outer portion.”
Number of Fibroids
In addition to the location of growth, uterine fibroids can also vary according to the number which grow in the uterus. Some women only have one fibroid, while others have multiple fibroids.
Size of Fibroids
Fibroids can also differ in size. Some can be tiny, while other women suffer from large fibroids in the uterus. In between, fibroids can grow in almost any size.
Severity of Symptoms
Finally, the symptoms of fibroids can vary from woman to woman. The factors that affect the severity of fibroid pain include things such as the number and size of the fibroids. The larger the fibroid(s), the more severe the fibroid pain tends to be (and the harder it can be to shrink or treat the fibroid).
However, it is their location that can most influence the symptoms of fibroids that the sufferer experiences. In particular, the deeper the fibroid is within the uterus, the worse the woman’s symptoms usually are.
“The fibroids that cause the biggest problems are typically those deep within the uterus,” “One woman might only have one fibroid that’s small but deep that causes significant symptoms,” Dr. Spies explains. “Another woman may have very large fibroids but in a position where they don’t cause the same kind of symptoms.”
The individuality of uterine fibroids has led to a number of different treatment options
Thanks to the fact that every fibroid sufferer is different, a number of different treatment options have arisen to help women deal with their fibroids and fibroid pain. One of these options is uterine fibroid embolization (UFE).
Thanks to this level of effectiveness, combined with a relatively low number of UFE side effects, this procedure offers a minimally invasive way to deal with uterine fibroids. However, symptoms may not be sufficiently alleviated if the fibroid is very large, because UFE may not be able to eliminate the fibroid entirely.
In cases where UFE may not be completely effective, fibroid surgery is sometimes an option. In particular, a myomectomy, which removes the fibroid surgically, can sometimes serve as an effective treatment.
Some women want to know if medications are available to treat uterine fibroids. The truth is that medications such as birth control are only used to control symptoms of fibroids (such as heavy menstrual bleeding), and not as a cure for fibroids in the uterus. Another type of medication, GnRH analogues, are only used to help reduce the size of the fibroids as a precursor to surgery. In order for medications alone to serve as treatment for large fibroids in the uterus, more research is required.
In the end, the key to choosing the right treatment for large fibroids in the uterus is to get the right diagnosis and familiarize yourself with your treatment options. In addition, knowing and speaking up for your own desires regarding treatment can help you to get the approach that will work best for you.
“A woman can’t self-diagnose or choose a treatment option without guidance,” says Dr. Spies. “It takes someone who practices in the field and who is experienced to be able to get a sense of which fibroids are key and which are not and which therapies are best for her particular fibroids.”
At VIVA EVE we are committed to providing high-quality, personalized care for each and every patient we see. We will partner with you to determine the best way to treat your problematic fibroids or adenomyosis.
- US Department of Health and Human Services, Office On Women’s Health. (2015). Uterine fibroids fact sheet. Retrieved April 21, 2015, fromHTTP://WWW.WOMENSHEALTH.GOV/PUBLICATIONS/OUR-PUBLICATIONS/FACT-SHEET/UTERINE-FIBROIDS.HTML?FROM=ATOZ
- King, R., & Overton, C. (2011). Management of fibroids should be tailored to the patient. The Practitioner, 255(1738): 19-23, 2-3.
- Lee, M. S., Kim, M. D., Jung, D. C., Lee, M., Won, J. Y., Park, S., Lee, D. Y., & Lee, K. (2013). Apparent diffusion coefficient of uterine leiomyoma as a predictor of the potential response to uterine artery embolization. Journal of Vascular and Interventional Radiology, 24(9): 1361-1365. doi:10.1016/j.jvir.2013.05.054
- (2014). When is a myomectomy better than a uterine fibroid embolization (UFE)? Retrieved April 20, 2015, fromHTTP://ASK4UFE.COM/VIDEOS/WHEN-IS-A-MYOMECTOMY-BETTER-THAN-A-UTERINE-FIBROID-EMBOLIZATION-UFE/
- Segars, J. H., Parrott, E. C., Nagel, J. D., Guo, X. C., Gao, X., Birnbaum, L. S., Pinn, V. W., & Dixon, D. (2014). Proceedings from the Third National Institutes of Health International Congress on Advances in Uterine Leiomyoma Research: comprehensive review, conference summary and future recommendations. Human Reproduction Update. doi:1093/humupd/dmt058