Did you know that up to 70% of women develop uterine fibroids? While all uterine fibroids are made of muscle tissues and fibers, there is more than one type.
At Alate Health in Houston, Texas, our board-certified interventional radiologists specialize in diagnosing and treating different uterine fibroids. We create personalized treatment plans based on the type of fibroid you have, among other factors.
Keep reading to learn more about the different types of fibroids, their risk factors, and the treatments available to help.
What are the different types of fibroids?
All uterine fibroids start in your uterus. And they’re all muscular, non-cancerous tumors. But depending on where they are in your body and the shape of the growth, you can be diagnosed with different types of uterine fibroids, including the four main types:
The most common fibroids are subserosal fibroids, which grow directly outside the uterus wall. Sometimes, subserosal fibroids are called pedunculated subserosal fibroids based on their shape (see below). These fibroids can be very big and trigger urinary and digestive symptoms when they put pressure on the bladder or digestive tract.
Intramural fibroids are also common and grow inside your uterine wall. Large intramural fibroids are most likely to cause swelling or a protruding abdomen, making you appear pregnant or overweight.
The diagnosis of pedunculated fibroids is based on shape rather than location. These fibroids have a long stalk and a top that appears mushroom-like. Because the stalk can twist and may limit or cut off blood flow to the tumor, this type of fibroid can trigger abdominal pain and cramping that can be quite severe.
When the fibroid grows in the inner lining of your endometrium, you’re diagnosed with a submucosal fibroid. Submucosal fibroids can expand into your uterine cavity.
This least common type of fibroid is also the type that causes the most problematic symptoms, especially since they can affect your fertility and menstrual cycle. Submucosal fibroids also trigger:
- The most severe uterine bleeding
- The largest blood clots
- Anemia (low blood iron) due to blood loss
The anemia has its host of problematic symptoms, including dizziness and fatigue.
What are the risk factors for different types of fibroids?
Researchers aren’t sure what causes different women to develop different fibroids. They believe several factors may be at play: hormone imbalances, family history/genetics, and a history of pregnancy, which triggers an increase in estrogen and progesterone.
Regardless of the type of fibroid, these factors remain the same. Other risk factors you could have that increase your chances of getting fibroids include:
- Being 30 or older
- Being Black
- Being overweight or obese
Many women don’t have any symptoms associated with their fibroids. For some women, however, fibroids can trigger noticeable symptoms, including:
- Painful periods/abnormal bleeding
- Low back or pelvic pain or pressure
- Incontinence and frequent urination
- Digestive issues (e.g., constipation)
- Pain during or after sexual intercourse
Fibroids can also cause a feeling of being full or noticeable swelling/enlargement in the lower abdomen.
Are there treatments for uterine fibroids?
Yes! The good news is that different treatments can treat uterine fibroids that cause uncomfortable or painful symptoms. The type of fibroid you’re diagnosed with plays a role in the type of treatment for your condition.
At Alate Health, our team creates a personalized uterine fibroid treatment plan, avoiding surgery whenever possible. Some fibroids, like the submucosal type, may benefit from minimally invasive myomectomy to surgically remove fibroids that expand into the uterine cavity.
In most cases, however, our team can use non-surgical, minimally invasive uterine fibroid embolization (UFE). This safe and effective therapy uses a catheter to place microscopic particles, called embolic agents, in the blood vessel that feeds the fibroid.
These particles block blood flow to the tumor, which causes the tissue to shrink, providing much-needed relief from any negative symptoms for at least 85% of patients. The entire procedure is performed in our office and takes 90 minutes or less!
Learn more about the different types of fibroids and which treatment may be right for you by scheduling an appointment online or over the phone with a provider at Alate Health in Houston, Texas.