Uterine fibroids or myomas are a rising concern these days. According to a medical abstract, non-cancerous tumors affect 80% of premenopausal women. Although fibroids can be asymptomatic, some clinical studies have shown they can result in heavy menstrual bleeding and sometimes subfertility.
While myomas are a universal issue for many women, the journey with these benign tumors is not the same for everyone. In fact, Black women are hit the hardest by these tumors, and the symptoms could be three times more severe compared to Hispanic and other ethnicities.
From varied symptoms to unique cultural perceptions, ethnicity plays a more significant role in the formation of fibroids than one might think. In this article, we will discuss how ethnicity can affect the treatment of uterine fibroids. We will also explore different types of fibroids and treatment options.
Living with uterine fibroids can be challenging, but it does not have to be your forever story. Mark Medical Care offers minimally invasive treatments that are as diverse as you are. Contact us at 833-483-4637 to schedule an appointment and make your life free from fibroid discomfort. Our staff is fluent in English and Spanish; you can conveniently communicate with them about your medical condition.
Exciting Update: Our Woodside medical office is relocating to Jackson Heights to better serve you. Join us in welcoming a new beginning at 78-14 Roosevelt Avenue, Jackson Heights, 11372, and experience improved facilities and accessibility.
What are Uterine Fibroids and their Types?
Uterine fibroids are irregular muscle tissue growths that develop in or on the uterus wall. While the tumors do not have symptoms in most cases, if the growth is large, a woman can experience severe abdominal pain accompanied by irregular vaginal bleeding.
You can have a single fibroid or multiple ones. In extreme cases, multiple fibroids can expand the uterus so much that it reaches the rib cage. The exact cause of fibroids is unclear, but they have been linked to hormones like estrogen and progesterone.
These hormones are produced in higher amounts during the reproductive years, which is why women of childbearing age (22 to 45) are more prone to them.
Types of Fibroids
There are various types of fibroids depending on where they are located or attached to the uterus. Knowing the types can help you alleviate the symptoms and make an informed decision when choosing a treatment. The types include:
- Intramural Fibroids
These are the most common types of uterine fibroids. Situated within the muscular wall of the uterus, intramural fibroids can grow and expand, sometimes stretching the womb itself. The presence of these tumors can lead to a range of symptoms, such as prolonged menstrual periods, pelvic discomfort, and even pressure on adjacent organs as they enlarge.
- Subserosal Fibroids
These fibroids develop on the external surface of the uterus and can grow outward, sometimes appearing as protrusions on the uterine surface. They may push against and exert pressure on neighboring organs as they expand, causing acute or chronic pain. Their external growth, however, means they rarely impact menstrual flow.
- Submucosal Fibroids
These tumors grow towards the mucosa (internal layer) or the uterus and might protrude into the uterine cavity. Although submucosal fibroids are smaller in size, they have more symptoms, usually irregular and extended uterine fibroid bleeding. Individuals with these fibroids might also experience symptoms of anemia due to increased blood loss.
- Pedunculated Fibroids
When the subserosal fibroids develop a stem, they are called pedunculated fibroids. The extended stalk can attach to the uterus’s outer or inner wall, which may vary depending on the woman’s ethnicity. Because of their stalked nature, there is a risk of pedunculated fibroids twisting, which can cause acute pain and might necessitate medical intervention.
- Cervical Fibroids
Although these tumors are rare, their prevalence is higher in black women. These fibroids arise from the cervical tissue, commonly known as the neck of the uterus. Since the tumors are present in the cervix can lead to extended menstrual periods, pressure sensations, and sometimes discomfort during intercourse. If enlarged, the fibroids could also influence the size and shape of this part of the uterus.
If you are experiencing symptoms of uterine fibroids, it is crucial to get them diagnosed. At Mark Medical Care, we offer advanced treatment options for all types of fibroids. Our minimally invasive treatments can help alleviate the symptoms and the medical condition, whether a heavy menstrual period or pelvic pain. Book an appointment with us for early diagnosis and treatment of fibroids in Deer Park.
Prevalence of Uteriune Fibroids in Different Ethnic Groups
Uterine fibroids are very common in people with a uterus, however, these tumors can have a significant impact on particular ethnicities. For instance, in the recent abstract study published by Jama Network Open, “Asian-Chinese and African American individuals are more likely to have uterine tumors than White participants.
To determine how the prevalence of fibroids has changed over the years, we compared this latest abstract with old research (published in 2010). Both articles concluded that African-American women have higher chances of developing fibroids than other ethnicities.
Here is a table that explains how fibroids affect women of different ethnicities.
Total number of participants = 702
Materials and Methods Used = Transvaginal ultrasound, Serum hormone testing
The chances of developing uterine fibroids can grow with age, which is common among individuals of different ethnicities. Therefore, it is essential to get a diagnosis if you suspect fibroids or are experiencing the symptoms.
Early treatment intervention can save you from the elevated effect these fibroids can have on your physical and mental well-being.
Symptoms of Uterine Fibroids Across Ethnicities
Many women who have fibroids in the uterus do not experience any symptoms. Those who do, report different types because they largely depend on the type and location of the tumors. Below we have mentioned the common symptoms that indicate uterine fibroids and how they can vary across ethnicities.
Heavy Menstrual Bleeding
Individuals with uterine tumors may find their periods heavier, requiring changing the sanitary pads frequently. The bleeding might also contain clots sometimes, depending on the size of the symptomatic uterine fibroids. Because African-American women are more likely to develop fibroids, they often report heavier menstrual bleeding.
Prolonged Menstrual Periods
Unlike heavy bleeding, prolonged periods are uncommon but still affect individuals with fibroids. Instead of the usual 4-7 days, a woman might experience bleeding for ten days or even longer. This symptom is prevalent among all ethnicities but notably pronounced among Hispanic and African-American women.
Pelvic Pain or Pressure
When the fibroids grow large, they create a constant heaviness or pressure in the pelvic area. A woman might feel pain and pressure even after the period because the symptom results from tumors. The pain may vary depending on the size of the fibroids.
This is another common symptom of uterine fibroids that affects many women. When large fibroids press against the bladder, they can lead to an increased urge to urinate. Some people might find themselves waking up multiple times at night to use the bathroom. The symptom shows no significant ethnic disparity but depends on the fibroid’s size and location.
Backache or Leg Pain
Large fibroids put pressure on the nerves that serve the legs, pelvis, and lower back. The constant pressure can cause radiating pain or aches in the affected areas, making daily life tasks challenging. Again, the constant pain affects women at a higher risk of developing uterine fibroids.
Constipation or Bloating
Another organ that the fibroids affect is the rectum, which leads to a hindered bowel movement and causes constipation. Additionally, the pressure on surrounding organs can cause a sensation of bloating.
The individual’s ethnicity also affects the severity of this symptom. A recent study on 1051 women found that non-Hispanic white individuals are more likely to develop constipation and bloating issues due to hormonal changes. The presence of uterine fibroids can worsen these gastrointestinal issues, causing discomfort.
How are Uterine Fibroids Diagnosed?
There are several ways medical practitioners can diagnose uterine tumors, such as pelvic examination. Below we have discussed these methods briefly to help you understand what to expect during the examination.
Only a certified doctor or an interventional radiologist can recommend the right diagnosis. Book your consultation with Mark Medical Care if you are experiencing symptoms of uterine fibroids and are looking for a safe treatment in Medford.
Before undergoing treatment, you would need confirmation that the symptoms are due to fibroids. Ultrasound helps get a picture of your uterus to confirm the diagnosis while helping the doctor map and measure the tumors.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
If the tumors are small and widespread in an area, your doctor may recommend an MRI test. The imaging test shows the size and location of the tumors in more detail, which results in more effective treatment. MRIs are often prescribed to women with a larger uterus or individuals approaching premenopause.
Also known as a saline infusion, this diagnostic method helps expand the uterine cavity to get images of the fibroids. Hysterosonography is ideal for women with fibroids attempting to get pregnant or have heavy menstrual bleeding.
While lab tests cannot detect fibroids, your doctor may recommend them, especially if you experience heavy or prolonged periods. These might include a CBC (complete blood count) to determine if excess bleeding has led to anemia. The medical professional might also recommend other tests to rule out thyroid problems or bleeding disorders.
The Benefits of Early Diagnosis and Treatment of Uterine Fibroids
Only half of the women with tumors experience symptoms such as heavy bleeding or pain. Since the symptoms are similar to many other diseases or health conditions, many individuals do not even think about fibroids in the first place. Here are some benefits of consulting a medical professional for the early diagnosis of uterine fibroids.
Minimizing Symptoms and Complications
Early detection allows timely treatment, helping reduce or prevent symptoms such as heavy menstrual bleeding, pain, and bulk-related symptoms. This can result in better overall physical and emotional health.
Preservation of Fertility
Fibroids can sometimes interfere with fertility or increase the risk of miscarriage. Early diagnosis and intervention can safeguard a woman’s reproductive potential, allowing for family planning on her terms.
Less Invasive Treatment Options
Identifying fibroids when smaller might offer a broader range of treatment options, including less invasive methods such as Uterine Fibroids Embolization. However, when these tumors grow large and spread across the uterus lining, they might require more aggressive surgical treatment.
Reduced Healthcare Costs
Addressing fibroids in their initial stages can prevent the escalation of complications, potentially avoiding more expensive treatments and hospitalizations in the future.
Early Prevention of Associated Conditions
Additional health conditions can be associated with uterine fibroids, such as anemia due to excessive blood loss during painful periods. By opting for early diagnosis and treatment options, you can prevent such associated conditions from becoming a bigger issue.
Avoids Emergency Situations
When the fibroids grow large, the risk of these tumors twisting or degenerating also multiplies. Early diagnosis and treatment can minimize the risk of emergencies preventing fibroids from causing major discomfort.
Uterine Fibroid Treatment Options for Multi-Ethnic Communities
The cause of uterine fibroids might still be unknown, but there are several safe treatments that can help you alleviate the symptoms while eliminating these tumors. Whether the fibroids are symptomatic or not, it is wise to treat them earlier, before the tumors start enlarging and causing issues.
Below we have explained some treatment options women of different ethnicities can opt for to combat uterine fibroids.
Uterine Fibroid Embolization or UFE (The Safest Method)
Uterine Fibroid Embolization is a minimally invasive procedure where an expert intervention radiologist injects embolic agents into the uterine wall or arteries. These agents effectively block the blood flow to fibroids, causing them to shrink and get absorbed by the body.
The biggest advantage of UFE or uterine artery embolization treatment is that it can be performed in an outpatient setting, so you do not need to get hospitalized. Moreover, the method is effective for treating multiple fibroids at once while preserving the uterus and maintaining a static pelvic.
Another advantage of undergoing this minimally invasive procedure is minimum recovery time. There will be no scarring around the treated area, and the risk of urinary tract infections is also low.
Several medications, including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, can help manage fibroid symptoms, but they cannot treat it completely. For example, GnRH agonists can help shrink the fibroid size, but the tumors may return to their original size once you stop the medication.
Additionally, studies have revealed that taking GnRH agonists can cause side effects such as night sweats, hot flashes, headaches, and vaginal discharge.
If you are experiencing heavy uterine bleeding, the doctor may recommend endometrial uterine artery ablation. This procedure is designed to stop or reduce the bleeding associated with uterine fibroids. Depending on the size (usually small) and location of the tumors, a doctor can use heat, cold, or other methods to remove the fibroids.
If you are of childbearing age and wish to conceive in the future, please note that endometrial ablation can reduce the chances of getting pregnant. Also, the risk of miscarriage increases due to heat or cold damage to the uterus or nearby organs.
According to a detailed article by Mayoclinic, this surgical method can lead to infections, causing more abnormal bleeding in the future.
This is a completely surgical method for removing uterine fibroids, regardless of their location and size (generally recommended to women with symptomatic tumors).
There are three primary types of myomectomy: Abdominal (through a large incision), Laparoscopic (via small incisions using a camera), and Hysteroscopic (performed through the cervix using a hysteroscope).
While it is beneficial as it preserves the uterus and keeps the possibility of future pregnancies alive, there is a chance of fibroid recurrence. Additionally, scar tissue resulting from the fibroid surgery may pose childbirth challenges later.
Some other treatment options include MRI-guided focused ultrasound surgery and hysterectomy (surgical removal). If you want a safe method to preserve your uterus, consider Uterine Fibroid Embolization. It is important to treat these tumors at the earliest, even if they do not have visible symptoms yet.
Myths and Misconceptions Around Treating Uterine Fibroids
The uterine fibroid treatment market is growing significantly and is expected to reach $ 5.95 billion globally. It means more and more women are taking a step forward to eliminate these unwanted tumors and their associated symptoms.
However, some myths still exist that women from different ethnicities believe, which often affects their decision to undergo fibroid treatments. Below we have debunked the following common myths:
Hysterectomy is the Only Effective Treatment for Fibroids
While hysterectomy, which involves the removal of the uterus, is a definitive treatment ensuring fibroids do not return, some other safer and more effective methods are available. For example, uterine fibroid embolization shrinks the tumors by blocking their blood supply and does not involve any type of surgical intervention.
Fibroid Treatment Can Affect the Ability to Get Pregnant or Stay Pregnant
The advanced uterine fibroid treatment methods do not damage the uterus, and you can get pregnant without major complications. Proper removal of tumors does not affect your ability to conceive or stay pregnant.
Some treatments for fibroids, such as myomectomy, can impact fertility, and it is crucial to opt for the right treatment based on your preferences. Additionally, only consult a board-certified radiologist for better treatment and recovery.
Fibroids Only Affect Women in their 30s or 40s
Between 30s to 40s, women are more prone to developing fibroids. However, they can appear at any age. Many women might even have fibroids without knowing it because they often do not cause symptoms.
Black women can develop fibroids 10 years earlier than white or women of other ethnicities, which makes age just a number and not a major factor. Irrespective of age, treating these tumors with methods like uterine fibroid embolization is safe.
Taking Medications Can Make Fibroids Disappear
Some medications can shrink fibroids or manage symptoms; they typically do not disappear completely. Also, the results only stay for the duration a person takes medications. Fibroids can appear again if the body develops resistance to the medicines.
Fibroids Go Away After Menopause
For many women, fibroids tend to shrink after menopause due to decreased estrogen. Unfortunately, they do not always go away entirely. Sometimes, hormone replacement therapy or birth control pills can also trigger the sudden growth of fibroids.
Contact Mark Medical Care and Welcome a Future Without Uterine Fibroids
Whether symptomatic or asymptomatic, it is better to get the fibroids removed. If left untreated, the fibroid tumors can enlarge, putting immense pressure on the nearby organs and resulting in symptoms like pelvic pain and an affected bowel movement.
At Mark Medical Care, we have a team of expert professionals led by Dr. Ron Mark, that can treat fibroids of all sizes. Our minimally invasive procedures are highly effective and require less downtime. All our medical offices and outpatient settings are fully equipped to offer you a comfortable and pleasant experience when you count on us to remove tumors.
Contact us at 833-483-4637 or online to learn more about our uterine fibroid treatments. Our friendly staff speaks English and Spanish and will happily answer all your questions throughout the treatment journey and beyond.