Dr. Joon Song Answers Frequently Asked Questions About Fibroid Treatment
Fibroids affect roughly 30 percent of all women by the age of 35, and from 20 to 80 percent by age 50. But many woman have not heard of fibroids, nor do they understand the causes, symptoms or treatment options available. To dispel some of the common misconceptions around fibroids, we spoke to Dr. Joon Song, who has been practicing gynecology since 1992, and founded his own practice in 2012.
Dr. Joon Song explains that fibroids are benign tumors made of smooth muscle cells and fibrous connective tissue that develop in the uterus. The most important characteristic of fibroids is that they are not cancer, and they do not have the potential to become cancer. Studies have shown that fibroids grow at different rates, even in the same woman, and can range from the size of a pea to the size of a watermelon — pretty big difference. T is important to note that fibroids are most common during the reproductive years, and it is still unknown exactly why it is that they form, but there is evidence to suggest that it is when there are higher levels of estrogen in the body. Additionally, once a fibroid develops, it can continue to grow until menopause.
One of the most commonly asked questions about fibroids is what the symptoms are, and these can range from person to person. Dr. Joon Song explains that some symptoms include heavy, painful periods, anemia, lower backache, constipation, frequent urination, pain during intercourse.
What Causes Fibroids?
When estrogen levels are high, especially during pregnancy, fibroids tend to swell. They are also more likely to develop when a woman is taking birth control pills that contain estrogen. Lower estrogen levels can cause fibroids to shrink, like during and after menopause. Genetic factors are thought to impact the development of fibroids. Having a close relative with fibroids increases the chance of developing them.
What Can You Do if You Discover a Fibroid?
Treatment is only recommended for those women experiencing symptoms as a result of fibroids. When treatment is necessary, it can take the form of medication or surgery. Some of the medications available are birth control pills, levonorgestrel intrauterine system (a plastic device placed inside the womb, which releases a hormone called levonorgestrel over an extended timeframe that reduces the inside lining of the womb from growing too fast), and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, like ibuprofen. Severe fibroids may require more drastic measures, including a hysterectomy, myomectomy, endometrial ablation. Unfortunately, there are no proven natural treatments for fibroids; however, keeping your weight down through diet and exercise may help to moderate estrogen levels.
Many women with uterine fibroids experience zero signs or symptoms. If that is the case for you, Dr. Joon Song explains that watchful waiting could be the best option. It is important to note that fibroids aren’t cancerous, they rarely interfere with pregnancy, and they usually grow slowly, or not at all, and tend to shrink after menopause, when levels of reproductive hormones drop.