South Florida Vascular Associates South Florida Vascular Associates

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Uterine Fibroids; What You Need to Know -Women's Health Awareness

Earlier this month we honored National Women’s Health Week, an observance led by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health. The goal is to empower women to make their health a priority and to help women understand what steps they can take to improve their health.

In honor of Women’s Health Awareness Week, we would like to educate you about a common health problem that many woman face; uterine fibroids.

What You Need To Know

Fibroids are muscular tumors that grow in the wall of the uterus and are almost always benign (not cancerous). They can grow as a single tumor, or there can be many of them in the uterus. They can be as small as an apple seed or as big as a grapefruit. In unusual cases, they can become very large.
About 20 percent to 80 percent of women develop fibroids by the time they reach age 50 and are most common in women in their 30’s and early 40’s. Not all women with fibroids have symptoms, however women who do have symptoms often find fibroids hard to live with. Some women experience pain and heavy menstrual bleeding. Fibroids also can put pressure on the bladder causing frequent urination, or the rectum, causing rectal pressure. If fibroids grow to become very large, they can cause the abdomen to enlarge, distending their belly.

Some fibroids do not cause any symptoms, but many women with fibroids can experience:

Heavy bleeding or painful periods
Feeling of fullness in the pelvic area
Enlargement of the lower abdomen
Frequent urination
Pain during sex
Lower back pain
Complications during pregnancy and labor, including a six-time greater risk of cesarean section
Reproductive problems, such as infertility

 Factors that can increase a woman's risk of developing fibroids:

Age. Fibroids become more common as women age, especially during the 30s and 40s through menopause. After menopause, fibroids usually shrink.
Family history. Having a family member with fibroids increases your risk. If a woman's mother had fibroids, her risk of having them is about three times higher than average.
Ethnic origin. African-American women are more likely to develop fibroids than white women.
Obesity. Women who are overweight are at higher risk for fibroids. For very heavy women, the risk is two to three times greater than average.
Eating habits. Eating a lot of red meat and ham is linked with a higher risk of fibroids. Eating plenty of green vegetables seems to protect women from developing fibroids.

No one knows for sure what causes fibroids. Researchers think that more than one factor could play a role. These factors could be:

Hormonal (affected by estrogen and progesterone levels)
Genetic (runs in families)

 Fibroids may need to be treated to reduce symptoms and pain. In the past, treatment usually involved surgery – removing the uterus through a hysterectomy, or removing the fibroids from the uterus through a myomectomy.

While these options are generally effective, they require general anesthesia and lengthy recovery times and they carry the risk of surgical complications. Many women are not candidates for a myomectomy because of the size, number, or location of their fibroids. Fibroids commonly recur after myomectomy.

Doctors at South Florida Vascular Associates offer a procedure called uterine fibroid embolization (UFE), or uterine artery embolization which is used to treat fibroids. It is a minimally invasive procedure in which the blood flow of the uterus is intentionally reduced, causing the fibroid tumors to shrink. It alleviates or improves fibroid symptoms 90% of the time.

Our board certified, interventional radiologists perform uterine fibroid embolization in our beautiful, state-of-the art outpatient facility without the need for hospitalization.  No general anesthesia, shorter recovery times and many women resume light activities in just a few days with the majority of women able to return to normal activities within seven to ten days.

If you have uterine fibroids and have been told you need to have them removed, you may be a candidate for fibroid embolization. To learn more, contact us today. Call (954) 725-4141 or request an appointment online now.

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