Fibroids can be anywhere from the size of a seed to a mass that pushes the uterus outwards. That diversity sometimes makes them difficult to detect and manage, which is why seeing a top-notch GYN specialist at Capital Women’s Care in Arlington and McLean, Virginia makes sense. Most women experience fibroids at some point, but they don’t always know it. Others suffer each month with heavy periods and unexplained pain. If you suspect you might have uterine fibroids, give the Capital Women’s Care practice a call to make an appointment with a GYN specialist.
Uterine fibroids are noncancerous masses that usually appear during a woman’s childbearing years. A patient might come to the Capital Women’s Care office with a single fibroid or many at once. Grouped fibroids can push the uterus up into the rib cage, making even sitting uncomfortable.
The current theory is that fibroids develop from stem cells in the muscular tissue of the uterus.
Nevertheless, it’s not clear why some women get them while others don’t, but there are a couple of factors at play. Genetics is one possible cause. Fibroids tend to have genes that vary from those of the normal uterine muscle cells.
Hormones are also a potential culprit. Estrogen and progesterone are responsible for the growth of the uterine lining each month and seem to trigger fibroids, as well. Other growth factors might be part of that formula, too, such as the insulin-like growth factor.
There are known risk factors for fibroid development, including:
Diet can have a role, as well, especially red meat and alcohol.
Tiny fibroids tend to have no symptoms. For medium-sized, multiple or larger fibroids, women typically experience:
Some fibroids produce shooting pain, as well, although this is rare.
Treatment for fibroids starts with a specialist doing a full exam on the patient. Testing may include an ultrasound to get confirmation if needed, and lab tests to rule out potential bleeding problems. In some cases, the doctor might choose to do a hysteroscopy to see inside the uterus.
Treatments involve medications that target the hormones that can trigger fibroids, such as gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists. A progestin-releasing intrauterine device, or IUD, can help manage the symptoms and allow the fibroid to disappear on its own, too.
Some patients require minimally invasive surgery to destroy or remove the fibroids, such as endometrial ablation or hysteroscopic myomectomy. A traditional hysterectomy is considered extreme but remains the only way to permanently eliminate fibroid growths that are causing extensive bleeding or discomfort.