One of the biggest problems in women’s health is myths that keep you from asking the right fibroid doctor questions. Even though 70-80% of women can have fibroids during their life, many women don’t know what uterine fibroids are, and sometimes don’t learn about all of their treatment options. Here are a few myths and misconceptions about fibroids, explained by our interventional radiologists who specialize in treating fibroids. After you’ve read through those myths, discover the most important questions to ask your fibroid specialists!
Myth 1: Fibroids, Tumors, Polyps, and Cysts are the Same
In a recent blog post, we discussed the differences and similarities between fibroids and polyps in the uterus. But, you may hear other similar terms, like tumor or cyst. Many people don’t know whether these terms mean the same thing, or they all refer to different conditions.
- A fibroid is a benign growth and is rarely associated with cancer. These growths develop from the muscle tissue of the uterus. You may hear a fibroid referred to as a “fibroid tumor” even though it is benign.
- A polyp is made of endometrium tissue and is usually benign.
- A cyst will develop on the ovaries and can be malignant.
- The phrase “uterine tumors” typically signifies uterine fibroids, and are benign. Uterine cancer, however, refers to a malignant growth of cells in the uterus.
Myth 2: A Fibroid Tumor is Cancerous
Fibroids are almost always benign and rarely turn into cancer. The difference in symptoms between cancer and a benign fibroid will help your doctor diagnose a growth as malignant. Cancer is sometimes diagnosed during surgery for what is thought to be benign fibroid tumors.
Myth 3: Fibroids Have Consistent, Defined Symptoms
There is no one symptom that will alert you to the fact that you have uterine fibroids. Many women have uterine fibroids at some point during their life, but most don’t have any symptoms. The most common symptoms include heavy menstrual bleeding, prolonged periods, or pelvic pain, but there are other symptoms that women can experience.
Myth 4: Surgery is Your Best Option
If you don’t experience symptoms, treatment isn’t necessary, and many fibroids will shrink after menopause. There are a variety of treatment options available if you do experience symptoms. For women who want a non-surgical alternative, want to preserve their uterus, or want a quicker recovery period, Uterine Fibroid Embolization may be recommended.
Myth 5: Fibroids Continue to Grow, and Will Grow Back after Treatment
Fibroids typically grow in alignment with hormone levels, which is why symptoms worsen during menstruation. This is also the reason fibroids may grow during pregnancy, but shrink after menopause. We cut off the existing fibroid’s blood flow during UFE, and it is very rare for them to regrow. In one study, only 5% of women needed additional treatment after UFE.
Myth 6: Castor Oil Compresses can ‘Cure’ Fibroids
A recent video circulating on Facebook suggested that castor oil compresses could cure fibroids, along with bone spurs, cysts and other growths. (For reference, this is just a piece of cloth soaked in castor oil and pressed against the affected body part.) Clearly, an external application can’t impact internal growths. But we wanted to directly address this rumor since the video is gaining some viral traction online. (To be clear, we won’t link to the video directly since it contains false medical advice.)
7 Fibroid Doctor Questions to Ask Our Specialists
Now that we’ve debunked the major fibroid myths, we want you to get the most out of your visit to our Houston fibroid practice. So here are the Top 7 fibroid doctor questions to bring up during your visit. (With a few basic answers). We hope they will help guide you towards your best treatment options.
1. HOW DO FIBROIDS DEVELOP?
The truth is, we don’t really know why. But we do know that African-American women have a higher risk for fibroids. And that they’re most common before you reach menopause.
2. ARE ALL FIBROIDS THE SAME?
Actually, there are four types of fibroids, classified by location.
3. WILL MY FIBROIDS CAUSE PROBLEMS?
If you’re seeking treatment, you probably know this already. But fibroids can affect your periods, your sex life and your fertility.
4. WHAT IS AN INTERVENTIONAL RADIOLOGIST?
Our team of specialists are Interventional radiologists. We offer minimally-invasive, image-guided treatments for fibroids.
5. WHAT ARE MY FIBROID TREATMENT OPTIONS?
As we said before, forget the fibroid myth that surgery is your only option. There are other ways to manage fibroids, including lifestyle changes and UFE.
6. WHY WOULD I CHOOSE UFE OVER SURGERY?
With UFE, you experience fibroid relief. You can also avoid scarring and hospital stays. Plus, there’s no need for general anesthesia and a shorter recovery period. Most importantly, you can keep your uterus and avoid symptoms. All while enjoying quick symptom relief.
7. WHEN WILL I START FEELING BETTER AFTER UFE?
With a few days of your treatment, symptoms should improve. But remember, you’ll also be recovering from UFE. And a full recovery could take up to 2 weeks. Then, over the weeks that follow, you should see symptoms–and your fibroids–disappear.
Ready to forget those harmful fibroid myths and get answers to your important treatment questions? Our Houston fibroid specialists are here to help. Simply reach out to our office and schedule a fibroid treatment consultation. We’ll help you understand your diagnosis. And, together, we’ll decide if you’re a good candidate for UFE.
Sources: Mayo Clinic