Uterine fibroids are malignant tumors that develop in or around the uterus for unknown reasons, although it's believed that certain factors play a role in their growth. Women with active fibroids often experience complications related to fertility, as well as period-related symptoms, including severe menstrual cramps, heavy menstrual bleeding, and spotting between periods. Fibroids, which are clinically known as muscle tumors, can occasionally degenerate on their own if their growth outpaces the blood supply feeding the fibroids. When this occurs, calcium deposits may develop on the fibroids.
Typically, calcified fibroids are "quieter" than active fibroids. They usually don't require medical attention, as these fibroids have reached the end stage of a degenerative process, meaning there can be no further disease progression. However, in order to be evaluated with a clean bill of health, meeting with a specialist or the fibroid doctors at VIVA EVE can give you the peace of mind you're seeking.
What Are Calcified Fibroids?
Calcified fibroids are remnants of inactive fibroids, marked by the calcium deposits that have formed during the degenerative process. Degeneration occurs when a fibroid's aggressive growth rate outpaces the body's blood supply, and the blood vessels are unable to provide the fibroid with the oxygen and nutrients the fibroid needs to thrive.
Symptoms of Calcified Fibroids
Typically calcium deposits begin to form post-necrosis (cell death). As the cells begin to die, women may experience painful symptoms similar to the symptoms of active fibroids. The pain that is caused by degenerating fibroids is often due to the blood supply being reduced. Known symptoms include abdominal pain at the site of the fibroid and severe cramping. If you suspect you are suffering from degenerating fibroids, make an appointment to be examined by a fibroid specialist. Once the fibroid becomes calcified, symptoms usually dissipate. In fact, fibroids that are treated with uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) often become calcified as the procedure blocks blood flow to the fibroids, leading to symptom relief.
Fibroid symptoms include:
- Pelvic pressure or pain
- Heavy periods or periods lasting a week or longer
- Bleeding between periods
- Frequent urination
- Pain while having sex
- Leg pains or backache
If you suspect you have fibroids, schedule a fibroid screening to find out your specific prognosis. Your fibroid doctor may run some tests in addition to an examination to reach a diagnosis.
Causes and Risk Factors
Age is the only risk factor for calcified fibroids. There is an increased likelihood of calcification in menopausal women, who often experience fibroid calcification naturally as their hormones regress. Following menopause, their fibroids often shrink and become asymptomatic.
There are a combination of causal factors that may contribute to the growth of fibroids in general, including:
- Female hormones, including estrogen and progesterone, which stimulate the growth of fibroids
- Genetic changes that create different than normal uterine muscle cells
- Other growth factors
Although doctors don’t know for sure the exact cause, the best fibroid doctor is one who will discuss the risk factors that may have an influence on the growth and development of fibroids. Known risk factors include:
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Early onset of menstruation
- Use of certain birth control methods
- Approaching menopause
- Certain dietary factors, such as eating a lot of red meat and a low amount of vegetables
- Heavy alcohol consumption
Your gynecologist may suspect a fibroid if a firm, irregular mass is discovered during a routine pelvic exam or from an ultrasound. To find out for sure if you have fibroids, see a fibroid doctor at a fibroid clinic where more specialized tests can be run.
A “fibroid specialist near me” in NYC offers much more expertise than a general practitioner. A series of diagnostic tests — such as x-rays, a transvaginal ultrasound and MRI — aids your fibroid doctor in making a diagnosis. For confirmation, he or she may remove and evaluate a sample of tissue from your uterus.
Treating Calcified Fibroids
Accurate diagnosis is necessary for effective treatment. In the early stages, the approach to fibroid treatment taken by your fibroid specialist in NYC may involve watching and waiting. At this stage, pain can usually be controlled using over-the-counter medications, rest and ice packs.
Doctors at a fibroid center in NYC may recommend birth control pills for hormone regulation or progesterone creams to help relieve the pain associated with calcified fibroids. By the time fibroids reach calcification, you may find that you aren’t experiencing as much pain, and your doctor in Queens may suggest doing nothing, depending on your age and your desire to have children. Calcified fibroids, however, may interfere with your ability to conceive.
Complications from Calcified Fibroids
Uterine fibroids can lead to anemia from heavy blood loss. Ignoring fibroids isn’t recommended, because in some cases, these non-cancerous growths can lead to infertility or pregnancy loss.
Some women do experience severe pain from fibroids, and the best fibroid surgeons in NYC usually recommend surgery for these women. Fibroid surgery in NYC may involve removal of the fibroid, which is known as a myomectomy. In extreme cases, if the fibroid is very large and you don’t want to have any more children, your fibroid doctor may recommend a hysterectomy, which is removal of your uterus.