The Facts on Fibroids

July 7, 2020
The Facts on Fibroids

Unexpected Success 

For Christie Weil, all’s well that ends well. It’s the in-between that got a little dicey.  

Weil, 37, had surgery to remove problematic uterine fibroids in 2012, got married in 2013, and after a few years of infertility, decided to try in vitro fertilization when she and her husband moved to Highlands Ranch in 2015.  

“When I went in a for egg implantation, my infertility doctor spotted another fibroid. I was devastated. All we wanted was a baby, and now we had to make a plan to take out the fibroid and wait nine months for implantation,” she says.  

Only – surprise – nine months later she would actually be giving birth to a healthy baby boy.  

Two weeks after the fibroid removal, the Weils conceived. It was shocking, given their history of infertility. And it was potentially dangerous, especially if the pregnancy implanted in the vulnerable area where the fibroids had just been removed.  

Weil’s surgeon, Mandi Beman, MD, director of robotics and gynecology at Porter Adventist Hospital, explains: “Surgery to remove uterine fibroids leaves a large defect in the muscle of the uterus. We repair that defect with multiple layers of sutures. Ideally we want three months for that to heal to decrease the risks that the incision will open or weaken as the uterus grows with pregnancy.”  

Weil let the reality set it. “Part of me was so excited to be pregnant. Part of me was really nervous,” she says. 

After months of waiting, the Weil’s baby boy arrived in November 2016. “Every doctor who meets me says my child is truly a miracle,” Weil says. “Dr. Beman did such a good job in the surgery. I had more complications prior to my pregnancy that I did during my pregnancy.”

Women who have had several children are less likely to have uterine fibroids.  

Answers to your questions about this common female affliction 

When we hear the word tumor, our world starts to spin. But fibroid tumors – also commonly called uterine fibroids – are very rarely cancerous.  

So, breathe a sign of relief and read on. Mandi Beman, MD, director of robotics and gynecology at Porter Adventist Hospital, offers the facts on fibroids, including the major symptoms to look out for when it’s time to seek treatment.  

Q: What are uterine fibroids exactly?  

A: What I tell patients is that fibroids are most often benign, or noncancerous, muscle cell tumors in the uterus. In other words, they originate from the smooth muscle layer in the uterus.  

Q: What causes them, and why are they so common?  

A: Fibroids happen in about 80 to 85 percent of women. We don’t know why they are so common or why women get them. They seem to run in families, and they are much more common in African-American women.  

Q: What are the main symptoms?  

A: The good news is only about 20 to 25 percent of fibroids cause symptoms. When they do, the main symptoms are pain, pressure, and abnormal bleeding. Less commonly, fibroids can cause “fullness” in the lower abdomen, urge to urinate (if the fibroid is pressing against the bladder), and, in about 1 or 2 percent of cases, infertility.  

Q: When do fibroids require treatment?  

A: If you have fibroids but no symptoms, you generally don’t need treatment. But see your doctor regularly to make sure they are not growing rapidly, which (Especially between ages 25 and 52) is when we get concerned with potential cancer. Fibroids generally shrink after menopause.  

If fibroids are causing painful symptoms or are affecting fertility, surgical removal, called a myomectomy, may be a viable treatment option. Depending on size, location, and age, other treatments can control symptoms or shrink the fibroids.