If you’re a woman in your 30s, 40s, or 50s, you have a good chance of developing fibroids — mostly benign growths in the uterus that can be painful and even debilitating for some women while others don’t even know they have them. The National Institutes of Health says up to 80% of American women will develop fibroids at some point in their lives, so if you do get them, you’re not alone.
In Las Vegas, Darin Swainston, MD, FACOG, treats uterine fibroids with innovative, robotic-assisted techniques that are less risky for patients and have faster healing times. Because of his vast experience in minimally invasive gynecological surgery, many patients seek out his expertise. Could you have fibroids and not even realize it? Here’s what you should know.
What exactly is a fibroid?
Fibroids are growths of fibrous tissue in your uterus. Most of the time, they’re non-cancerous and nothing to worry about unless they affect your quality of life.
Some women have no symptoms, while others have severe pain and debilitating symptoms. With fibroids, you may experience:
- Heavy menstrual bleeding
- Abdominal or pelvic pain or pressure
- Painful or frequent urination
- Backache or leg pain
Maybe you have some of these symptoms and never realized they could be caused by fibroids.
All fibroids are not the same
While all fibroids are growths of muscular tissue in your uterus, they vary in location, shape, and size. For example, they can grow within your uterine wall or in your uterine cavity. Some of them are large and can affect the shape of your uterus and your ability to get pregnant. Others are tiny and don’t cause any problems.
The cause of fibroids isn’t known
The exact cause of fibroids is unknown, but certain factors can increase your risk of developing them. Such factors include:
- Other family members, like mothers or sisters, had them
- Your period started at a young age
- Alcohol use
- A diet high in red meat and low in green vegetables
Fibroids contain more estrogen and progesterone receptors than normal uterine tissue. So each month as these hormones stimulate your uterus to prepare for pregnancy, they may also stimulate fibroids to grow.
Treatment for fibroids
Treatments range from medications to minimally invasive procedures to traditional surgery. Medications include progestin-releasing intrauterine devices, oral contraceptives, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Also, gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists stop the release of eggs from your ovaries and stop the production of estrogen, which can cause fibroids to shrink.
Minimally invasive procedures include those done with robotic-assisted surgery like a myomectomy (fibroid removal) and even hysterectomy (removal of the uterus). Both of these can also be done with traditional surgical methods if necessary. For example, if fibroids are too large or too many in number, a conventional hysterectomy may be needed.
If you live in the Las Vegas area and think you have fibroids, contact our office to learn more about Dr. Swainston’s minimally invasive treatments. To make an appointment, call us at 702-357-5741 today.