If we were putting together the alphabet as it relates to obstetrics and gynecology, the letter “F” would be for fibroids. It is not a glamorous topic, but it is important especially since 20% of reproductive age women are affected by it.
Uterine fibroids affect some groups of women in higher proportion than others. Fibroids are most common in women aged 30–40 years, but can occur at any age. Additionally, fibroids occur more often in African American women (50%-80%).
Now that we know who is affected by fibroids, let’s define more clearly what fibroids are.
Uterine fibroids are benign (noncancerous) tumors of muscle tissue in the uterus.
Though the exact cause of them is unclear, there is evidence that it may be a combination of genetic, hormonal, and environmental factors. From a scientific standpoint, fibroids occur when a single muscle cell in the wall of the uterus multiplies and grows to form a noncancerous tumor.
Using the word “tumor” might automatically make one think about surgery or the need for surgical removal, but with modern medicine, there are several non-surgical ways to treat problematic fibroids.
In this video, I discuss the various ways to treat fibroids, including the non-surgical solutions, with minimally invasive gynecologic surgeon, Dr. Karen TangFibroids &
Fibroids can be painful and uncomfortable. However, they do not always necessitate medical intervention. The degree to which one experiences discomfort will dictate whether one needs treatment or not.
As it pertains to fertility, fibroids can sometimes cause miscarriages or infertility, but this is not the case for all women. Many women are able to conceive and have healthy pregnancies.
A big question for many trying to conceive is, “What will happen to my fibroids during pregnancy?”…
The good news is that while fibroids are found in 2% to 12% of pregnant women, not all fibroids get larger or cause problems in a pregnancy.
If a fibroid grows, it usually does so in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Fibroids may increase your risk for other complications during pregnancy and delivery including fetal growth restriction or preterm delivery.
This video covers additional potential problems of which you can be mindful. Remember to discuss any concerns you have with your physician.
Your physician is there to be a partner with you in all aspects of your health, especially on topics that can be as sensitive as this one!
Shannon M. Clark, MD, MMS is a double board certified ObGyn and Maternal-Fetal Medicine Specialist, and founder of Babies After 35. In her roles as a clinician, educator and researcher at UTMB-Galveston, she focuses on the care of people with maternal and/or fetal complications of pregnancy. Dr. Clark has taken a special interest in pregnancy after the age of 35, which according to age alone, is considered a high-risk pregnancy.
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