By: Diana Barnes-Brown for Fibroids1
Uterine fibroids – benign tumors that grow in the uterus, the walls of the uterus, or the surrounding areas – afflict the women who have them with a host of symptoms. These range from pesky (“off-cycle” bleeding) to highly painful and disruptive of lives and lifestyles.
|Fibroids or Not?|
Symptoms of several other diseases and conditions, including urinary tract infections, ectopic pregnancy, certain STDs, and even cancer are similar to fibroid symptoms. The following symptoms may be symptoms of fibroids, but could also be due to other problems, so be sure play it safe by seeking the help of a professional medical caregiver before jumping to conclusions.
Painful and/or heavy periods
Uterine or abdominal pain at other times of the month
Unexplained or off-cycle bleeding
Urinary or bowel symptoms (frequent urination, feelings of pressure in the intestinal area)
Lower back pain
Anemia (due to increased bleeding)
Pain during sexual intercourse (dyspareunia)
Reproductive problems (including infertility, miscarriage or premature labor)
Among the most dreaded symptoms of fibroids for women with hopes of having children is chronic infertility. A range of minimally invasive treatments is now available to remove fibroids, and this represents a huge improvement in fibroid care.
Historically, the treatment with the most hope of preserving women’s fertility was open surgery myomectomy, or removal of fibroids by opening the abdomen and cutting them out manually. When uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) gained approval of physicians and researchers as a safe, effective treatment option for fibroids, there was a lot of hope in both medical and patient communities that this next-generation treatment would also perform well when it came to preserving or reinstating women’s fertility. But until recently, the medical community lacked enough evidence to recommend UFE as a safe option for would-be parents.
Recently, new research unveiled at the 30th British Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology, held this month in Glasgow, has shown that at least for some, UFE allows for successful future pregnancies.
Dr. W.J. Walker presented the results of a trial conducted at the Royal Surrey County Hospital and the London Clinic. The trial examined the post-treatment pregnancy success rates of 94 women who had fibroids and wished to become pregnant.
Within the 94 patients who wished to become pregnant, 31 (or 33 percent) did. Twenty-five (or 27 percent) of the pregnancies were successful, and six (or 6 percent) were ongoing at the time of publication. Of the 25 women who had successful pregnancies, 10 of these had been advised that hysterectomy was the only option for treatment of their fibroids.
Ten patients had suffered from chronic infertility due to fibroids, and of these 10, eight have had successful pregnancies, with periods of sub-fertility (lower fertility rates) lasting between 18 months and seven years.
The average age of the patients in the trial, 36 years old, was older than the average age at which women have children, but despite the concerns of patients and doctors, complications were not intensified or increased by UFE treatment.
While UFE is a far cry from a surefire cure or preserver of fertility, these results point to a hopeful option for women still hoping to conceive. Further research in this area is expected, and with it, results for larger populations are expected, leading to more concrete conclusions.