Fibroids in Cincinnati, OH
Millions of women suffer from fibroids and Crescent Women’s Medical Group, led by board-certified gynecologists (OB-GYN) Drs. Chandra Gravely and Cindy Hansel, is here to help. Our team of medical specialists offers solutions to alleviate women’s health problems, such as fibroids, and provides state-of-the-art gynecologic care for women in the Cincinnati and Blue Ash areas of Ohio.
What Are Fibroids?
Fibroids are the most commonly occurring tumors in the female reproductive system. Fibroids, also known as uterine myomas, leiomyomas or fibromas, are firm, compact tumors that consist of smooth muscle cells and fibrous connective tissue that form in the uterus. It is estimated that 20 to 50 percent of women of reproductive age have fibroids, although not all are diagnosed. Some studies predict that as many as 77 percent of women will develop fibroids sometime during their reproductive years, although only about one-third of these fibroids may be large enough to be detected during a physical examination.
About 99 percent of fibroid tumors are benign, or non-cancerous, and fibroids do not increase a woman’s risk of uterine cancer. Fibroids may range in size, from the size of a pea to the size of a softball or small grapefruit.
What Causes Fibroid Tumors?
While the cause of fibroids is not clearly understood, it is believed that each tumor develops from an aberrant muscle cell in the uterus, which multiplies rapidly due to the effects of estrogen.
Who Is At Risk For Fibroid Tumors?
Women going through perimenopause, or the period just prior to menopause, are at the greatest risk for fibroids because of their long exposure to high levels of estrogen. Women who are obese, as well as African-American women, also seem to be at an increased risk, although the reasons for this are not clearly understood.
Studies show that some factors may protect a woman from developing fibroids. Some results have indicated that women who given birth to two live children have half the risk of developing uterine fibroids, in comparison to women who have never had children. It is not clearly understood whether having children actually protected women from fibroids or whether fibroids were a factor in causing infertility in women who had no children. The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development is conducting further research on this topic, as well as other factors that may affect the diagnosis and treatment of fibroids in women.
What Are The Symptoms Of Fibroids?
Some women who have fibroids experience little to no symptoms, while others endure more intense, debilitating symptoms. Additionally, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms of uterine fibroids may include:
- Heavy or prolonged menstrual periods
- Abnormal bleeding between menstrual periods
- Pelvic pain, pain in the lower abdomen and pain with menstruation
- Frequent urination
- Low back pain
- Pain during intercourse
- A firm mass, often located near the middle of the pelvis, which can be felt by the physician
Fibroids may also lead to other conditions, for example, heavy or prolonged menstrual periods or the abnormal bleeding between periods can lead to iron-deficiency anemia in some women, which also requires treatment.
How Are Fibroids Diagnosed?
Fibroids are most often detected during a routine pelvic examination, possibly combined with an abdominal examination during which the physician may detect a firm, irregular pelvic mass. In addition to a complete medical history and physical, as well as a pelvic and/or abdominal examination, diagnostic procedures for uterine fibroids may include the following:
- X-rays use electromagnetic energy to produce images of bones and internal organs onto film.
- Transvaginal ultrasound or ultrasonography is an ultrasound test that uses a small instrument, called a transducer, inserted into the vagina.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a non-invasive procedure that yields a two-dimensional view of an internal organ or structure.
- Hysterosalpingography is an X-ray examination of the uterus and fallopian tubes that is performed using dye and is often used to rule out obstruction of the fallopian tubes.
- Hysteroscopy refers to the visual examination of the canal of the cervix and the interior of the uterus using an instrument called a hysteroscope that is inserted into the vagina.
- Endometrial biopsy is a procedure in which a tissue sample is obtained through a tube inserted into the uterus.
- A blood test is used to check iron levels in that the fibroid causes heavy bleeding.
Treatment for Fibroids
Naturally, most fibroids stop growing and some may even shrink and disappear as a woman approaches menopause. For this reason, some healthcare providers may suggest “watchful waiting” while carefully monitoring symptoms to ensure that there are no significant changes or developments and that the fibroids are not growing or causing secondary effects.
For women whose fibroids are large or are causing troublesome symptoms, our specialists offer several treatment options. Treatment will be determined based on:
- Your general health, medical history, and symptoms
- The severity of the disease
- Your tolerance for specific medications, procedures or therapies
- Prognosis for the course of the disease
- Your opinion or preference
- Your desire or lack of desire for future pregnancy
In general, treatment for fibroids may include:
- Hysterectomy. This is a surgical procedure that involves the removal of the entire uterus. Fibroids are the primary reason for hysterectomies in the United States.
- Conservative surgical therapy. Conservative surgical therapy uses a procedure called a myomectomy that removes the fibroids but leaves the uterus intact to enable a future pregnancy.
- Gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists (GnRH agonists). This approach reduces estrogen levels and triggers a “medical menopause.” In some cases, GnRH agonists are used to shrink the fibroid, making surgical treatment easier.
- Anti-hormonal agents. Certain drugs, such as progestin and Danazol, oppose estrogen and have shown success in treating fibroids. Antiprogestins, which block the action of progesterone, may also be used.
- Uterine artery embolization. Also called uterine fibroid embolization, uterine artery embolization (UAE) is a newer procedure that is minimally invasive because it is performed without a large abdominal incision. This procedure identifies the arteries supplying blood to the fibroids then blocks them off. The embolization cuts off the blood supply to the fibroids, causing them to shrink. Health care providers continue to evaluate the long-term effects of this procedure on fertility and possible regrowth of the fibroid tissue.
- Anti-inflammatory painkillers. These medications are often effective for women who experience occasional pelvic pain or discomfort.
For women in the Cincinnati and Blue Ash areas of Ohio, excellence in gynecologic and obstetrical care is available at Crescent Women’s Medical Group today. Our team of specialists is on hand to treat a variety of women’s medical problems including fibroids and other conditions affecting the reproductive organs.