Uterine fibroids are benign tumors that grow inside or outside the uterus. These tumors are cells that produce connective tissue and usually form in a woman’s reproductive years. They can cause heavy periods, painful cramps, and difficulties with infertility. These tumors have been linked to environmental changes in some women, but most of the time, they are genetically determined. Fibroids may cause blood clots, endometrial cancer, and infertility.
1. Understand the Different Types of Fibroids
There are multiple uterine fibroids, including submucosal, intramural, and subserosal. The location of your fibroid can determine its effects on the body. For example, submucosal fibroids grow under the uterus lining, which may cause heavy periods, infection, or pain. Subserosal fibroids grow outside the uterus and may bleed or block the fallopian tubes. Intramural fibroids may develop in the uterus wall and bleed during pregnancy.
2. Understand the Diagnosis
In an ultrasound, listening to your doctor’s comments about possible causes for your abnormal ultrasound findings is essential. You may be diagnosed with uterine fibroids based on the size and location of your fibroids, but one way to rule out other causes is by having a pelvic exam and an ultrasound during the same visit. If you have symptoms related to fibroids (for example, pain or heavy menstruation), you should discuss them with your doctor before any diagnostic tests are done.
3. Understand the Symptoms
Some of the symptoms related to uterine fibroids are pain, heavy periods, and infertility. Other symptoms may be related to the fibroids themselves. For instance, they may cause chronic pelvic pain or heavy bleeding. Other symptoms include headaches, bloating, and anemia (low red blood cell count). Fibroids may also cause hormonal changes that increase your risk of developing certain cancers.
4. Understand Your Treatment Options
There is no one treatment for uterine fibroids. The type of fibroid will determine your treatment. For example, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends removing submucosal fibroids through myomectomy or hysterectomy. On the other hand, your doctor may recommend treatment for symptomatic fibroids, that is, eliminating fibroids when you have pain. Fibroids can be removed by suction (myomectomy), surgery (hysterectomy), or medication.
5. Understand the Procedure
Myomectomy is a procedure used to remove uterine fibroids and take out the affected part of the uterus. Depending on the size and location of the fibroid, your doctor will decide if this is the best treatment option. There are multiple ways to perform myomectomy, including abdominal incision, minimally invasive surgery (laparoscopy), hysteroscopy, or robotic arms (robotic-assisted laparoscopic myomectomy). Different approaches affect your recovery time after surgery significantly.
6. Understand the Aftermath
It would be best if you told your doctor about any possible side effects from surgery. Some possible side effects include pain, bleeding, infertility, urinary incontinence and infection. However, most of these side effects are rare. You need to discuss all possible side effects before surgery with your doctor. You can get uterine fibroid treatment in Memphis, TN, or an area near you to improve your quality of life.
7. Understand the Changes You Should Expect to Experience After Surgery
After myomectomy, your period will likely be light and shorter or stop altogether. Bleeding may also become darker and heavier than before. There may also be cramping, back pain, and pelvic pressure. These symptoms will go away after 10 to 12 weeks. In addition, your doctor may refer you to a physical therapist or pelvic floor physical therapist to help you regain strength in your pelvic floor muscles (PC muscles). During this recovery time, you will need to make small changes in your diet, exercise, and sleep habits.
8. Understand the Recovery Time
You should be able to go back to work and all other activities as soon as you feel comfortable. You may experience bleeding or spotting for 14 days after surgery, so take your time returning to normal activities. You may return to work after three weeks or less. If you are more active, you may need six weeks before returning to work. Make sure that you talk with your doctor about any limitations that they have put on your activities during recovery time.
Uterine fibroids are not curable, but they can be controlled. They will not get better on their own but with the help of a specialist, and the most important thing is to understand what your doctor is telling you. Also, it is advisable to seek professional advice from other doctors before deciding on the treatment for your particular case.