Most women experience pelvic pain at one point or another during their lifetimes. For nearly one-third of women worldwide, this pain becomes chronic, lasting six months or more.
Chronic pelvic pain can have different causes, including the growth of noncancerous tumors called uterine fibroids. These benign tumors affect up to 70% of women, and although they're not cancerous, they can cause life-changing symptoms.
The good news is that you don't have to live with the pain and other symptoms uterine fibroids cause. At Alate Health, our board-certified interventional radiologists specialize in diagnosing and treating fibroids for women across Houston, Texas.
Keep reading to learn more about uterine fibroids and why you shouldn't ignore severe fibroid pain.
Recognizing the signs of fibroids
Uterine fibroids affect each woman a little differently. Some women only learn they have fibroids during a routine medical checkup. For others, the symptoms are mild and don't affect their everyday life.
Other women, however, struggle with severe pelvic pain and other problematic symptoms associated with uterine fibroids, such as:
- Painful periods/abnormal bleeding
- Clots during menstruation
- Pain during or after sex
- Low back pain or pressure
- Abdominal bloating/pressure
- Digestive problems (e.g., constipation)
- Incontinence and frequent urination
The symptoms fibroids cause depend on where they grow in the uterus, the size and number of fibroids you have, age, lifestyle factors, and more. The good news is that effective treatments exist to ease these symptoms and restore your quality of life.
Never ignore fibroid symptoms
Women might ignore chronic pelvic pain and other fibroid symptoms for different reasons, including believing all women experience heavy periods, painful sex, and other problematic signs of fibroids. Other women may feel embarrassed by or unsure about their symptoms.
Because women's reproductive organs are mostly internal, it can be challenging to know what's normal and what's not. That's why talking about your chronic pain and other symptoms with a trained provider is so important.
For example, while many women develop fibroids and the lifetime risk of ovarian cancer is less than 2%, the condition can present many symptoms as uterine fibroids. Early detection and treatment of this life-threatening condition can save your life.
There's no reason to live with chronic pain and other troubling symptoms. For the majority of women with problematic uterine fibroids, effective treatments can help. These therapies range from non-invasive, conservative treatments to surgery and may include:
- Medications like over-the-counter pain medicines, hormonal birth control, or gonadotropin-releasing hormone agents
- Endometrial ablation
- Laparoscopic myolysis to shrink fibroids
- Surgical removal of fibroids (myomectomy)
Some women also undergo a hysterectomy to remove their uterus permanently. The good news is there's a less invasive yet very effective treatment: uterine fibroid embolization.
All about uterine fibroid embolization
At Alate Health, our team specializes in safe and effective uterine fibroid embolization (UFE). UFE is a non-surgical treatment that shrinks problematic fibroids by blocking their blood supply using tiny particles placed in the blood vessel.
During this outpatient treatment, your Alate Health provider places a small catheter into the targeted blood vessel, then releases the specialized blocking particles. The treatment takes about 90 minutes, and only a tiny incision is required.
The therapy isn't suitable for everyone, including women planning to get pregnant. That's why our team evaluates different relevant factors before recommending a specific treatment, including:
- The severity of your symptoms
- The size and location of your fibroids
- Your age and proximity to menopause
- Whether you want to become pregnant
If UFE is right for you, you can rest easy knowing at least 85% of women have dramatically improved their pain and other symptoms.
Talk to a fibroid specialist if you have fibroid pain
If you’re experiencing severe pain from uterine fibroids, don’t wait to schedule an appointment with a specialist at Alate Health. Our team creates a personalized uterine fibroid treatment plan based on your symptoms and imaging studies, medical history, overall health, and lifestyle factors.
Learn more about uterine fibroids and the treatment options available to help ease your pain by scheduling an appointment online or over the phone at Alate Health in Houston, Texas.