Get the scoop with fibroid facts
Uterine fibroids are the most common tumor of the female pelvis. They are so common that by age 35, 25% of Caucasian women, 40% of Hispanic women, and 50% of African American women have clinically significant fibroids. In other words, tumors that cause symptoms. This is one of the most shocking fibroid facts.
These tumors are essentially always benign (not cancer), but they can cause significant fertility problems. Fibroids can cause symptoms like heavy bleeding, severe cramping with menstrual periods, pelvic pain, and bowel/bladder problems. In addition, fibroids can also dramatically reduce a woman’s chance for pregnancy – depending on their size and location.
Fibroid facts – The different types
Fibroids can develop on the outside of the uterus, in the wall of the uterus or inside the uterine cavity. Ones that develop on the outside (subserosal fibroids) don’t usually affect fertility. Although they can certainly cause other symptoms by pushing into the bladder or by compressing the intestine. As a result, subserosal fibroids do not usually need to be removed in women seeking pregnancy unless they are causing symptoms.
Fibroids that develop in the cavity (submucosal fibroids) have the worst effect on fertility. They can act almost like an IUD. Therefore, we must remove them.
The most common type of fibroid is the intramural fibroid. This is the fibroid that grows within the uterine wall. There is a lot of controversy about whether doctors need to remove these tumors. The best data on this subject suggests that surgeons should remove intramural fibroids measuring 3 cm or more before pregnancy.
The location can make a difference
Location is another important fibroid fact. Many fibroids grow from one location into another. For example, many intramural fibroids are also partially subserosal or submucosal. Their location and their potential effect on fertility also determines the best surgical approach to remove them.
We can remove submucosal fibroids via hysteroscopy. Subserosal fibroids and many intramural fibroids can be removed via laparoscopy. Patients with very large fibroids, multiple fibroids or fibroids that grow all the way through the wall into the cavity should usually be removed through a slightly larger abdominal incision, or “laparotomy”. Both hysteroscopy and laparoscopy are outpatient procedures. In other words, patients can go home the same day of surgery and can usually return to work within a couple of days. Patients who require a laparotomy typically spend 1-2 nights in the surgery center or hospital and can usually return to work within one week.
In summary, fibroids are a significant problem that we encounter in a lot of our patients. Fortunately, they can be very effectively treated so that they do not need to prevent your pursuit of pregnancy. Contact us to learn more.