The Facts on Fibroids
Did you know that about 20 to 80 percent of women develop uterine fibroids–muscular tumors that grow in or on the wall of the uterus–by the time they reach age 50? That wide-range percentage shows that uterine fibroids are more prevalent than you might think and, in fact, most common in women in their 40s and early 50s. Studies also show that African American women are more prone to getting fibroids, and tend to experience fibroids at a younger age and often more severely than that of other races.
What are the Causes of Fibroids?
Though no one knows for sure what causes fibroids, it is believed that possible factors are hormonal (estrogen/progesterone levels) and genetics.
The Good, the Bad and the Uterine
The good news is that fibroid tumors are almost always benign (not cancerous) and that most fibroids do not cause any symptoms. The bad news is that for those women who do experience symptoms, they can make life miserable. Some women have pain and heavy menstrual bleeding. Fibroids also can put pressure on the bladder, causing frequent urination, or the rectum, causing rectal pressure. Should the fibroids get very large, they can cause the abdomen (stomach area) to enlarge, making a woman look pregnant.
How are Fibroids Treated?
If you have fibroids, but no symptoms, you may not need treatment. In determining your treatment, you and your doctor will take into consideration the severity of your symptoms, whether or not you want to become pregnant in the future, the location and size of the fibroids and your age and how close you might be to menopause.
If you have fibroids and have mild symptoms, your doctor may recommend:
- Over-the-counter pain medication
- Iron supplements
- Low doses of progesterone
- Gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists (GnRHa)
If you have moderate to severe symptoms, your doctor may recommend one of the several types of surgery available, such as:
- Myomectomy (removing the fibroids without taking out the healthy tissue)
- Hysterectomy (removing the uterus)
- Endometrial ablation (removal of the lining of the uterus)
- Myolysis (laparoscopy procedure that freezes or electrocutes the fibroid)
New Incision-Free Sonata® Treatment
There now is an alternative to invasive surgery with the Sonata Treatment, an incision-free procedure that uses a unique intrauterine ultrasound handpiece to locate and target individual fibroids. Radiofrequency energy is then used to shrink the fibroids and help relieve the debilitating symptoms.
DMC Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital is the first in Michigan to treat patients with the Sonata Treatment, treating the fibroids from inside the uterus and requiring no incisions to the abdomen, no surgically removed tissue, and preserving the uterus. The Sonata Treatment can treat a wide range of fibroid types, sizes and location–without even one incision.
“This innovative treatment is a potential breakthrough for women living with uterine fibroids,” says Danny Benjamin, M.D, chief of Obstetrics and Gynecology at DMC Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital. “We know that many women do not seek treatment for uterine fibroids because they want to avoid surgery. This treatment is performed as a same-day surgery in the operating room, but without general anesthesia.”