You do not have to live with fibroid degeneration anymore if you suffer from uterine fibroids. There are medications and minimally invasive treatments to stop heavy bleeding, painful cramping, and other debilitating symptoms. Visit Downtown Vein & Vascular Center for more information about fibroid degeneration and to have any questions answered regarding its causes and treatment. Dr. Sergei A. Sobolevsky not only treats the symptoms, but also addresses the root problem to restore your body to a more balanced state for long-term health and wellness. His goal is to keep you comfortable and safe.
Every woman goes through a different experience when it comes to uterine fibroids. Many women are not even aware they have them as they have no symptoms, while others experience symptoms so severe that completing daily activities becomes a challenge.
Fibroids are non-cancerous tumors that grow on or in the muscular walls of the uterus. They are not dangerous or turn life-threatening, but they can cause a lot of health complications if left untreated, such as infertility and risky pregnancy. In some cases, they can also develop into degenerating fibroids.
What Is Fibroid Degeneration?
Fibroids are made up of living tissues and take up oxygen and nutrients as they grow. The blood vessels supplying blood to the uterus and within the uterus provide this nourishment to them. However, when the fibroids grow too large, the nutrients they receive are insufficient to keep them alive. Thus, the fibroid cells begin to die. This process is known as fibroid degeneration.
While this dying of fibroids may seem good, the process of fibroid degeneration can be uncomfortable and cause intense pain or bleeding. If it is left untreated, it may also lead to complications.
Symptoms of Degenerating Fibroids
Fibroids can only be identified with proper testing. Symptoms of fibroid degeneration include:
- Heavy or inconsistent menstrual bleeding
- Periods that last longer than a week
- Bloating or swelling in the lower abdomen
- Cramps during periods
- Pelvic pain or pressure
- Excessive fatigue
- Difficulty urinating or need to urinate more often
- Back or leg pain
Painful cramping during periods or heavy and inconsistent bleeding are common symptoms experienced by many women during periods due to fibroid. However, fibroid degeneration symptoms can change as the fibroids shrink, change shape or regrow.
How Does Fibroid Regeneration Change Symptoms?
All fibroids need oxygenated blood to survive, but when they become too large too fast, the tissue can actually outgrow its blood supply. As a result, the fibroid may shrink down to the size the current blood supply can feed. Shrinking of fibroids may seem beneficial, but chances are they will expand and degenerate again, starting the process over.
This cycle of growth and shrinkage can change the symptoms or lead to additional symptoms:
- Acute stabbing pain — It is the most common symptom of fibroid degeneration and causes a sharp and stabbing pain in the abdomen. The stabbing pains are caused by a release of chemicals from the fibroids as the cells die. This pain is often accompanied by swelling.
- Fever — Many women experience low-grade fever as a result of fibroid degeneration. A body temperature between 100.4 and 102.2 degrees is usually reported.
- Bleeding — In rare cases, fibroid degeneration may cause hemorrhaging or bleeding. This can occur during a normal menstrual cycle or between periods and is a warning sign of fibroids.
- Chronic pain — Persistent pelvic pain or low-grade chronic pain that never seems to go away is also a sign of fibroid degeneration.
Once enough of the fibroids have died, the remaining can survive on the blood flow available from the blood vessels. Since the degeneration process has stopped or reached a pause, the pain often subsides. However, once the blood supply returns to the fibroid, it will begin to grow again. As this happens, the cycle continues, and eventually it will reach the point of degeneration again. It will result in changes in symptoms, which must be checked out by an the best fibroid doctor.
Duration of Symptoms for Degenerating Fibroids
The pain and symptoms resulting from degenerating fibroids can last anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks. NSAIDs, other fibroid pain-relieving medications, and heating pads help ease the pain, but it is essential to seek medical care and proper treatment to ensure there are no complications.
You must visit a healthcare provider if you experience severe pain, abnormal bleeding, or other symptoms associated with fibroids, or calcified fibroids. Even if your symptoms have subsided, it is better to get yourself checked. If the fibroids have stopped degenerating for the time being, chances are they will keep returning until they are medically treated. The only way to solve the problem and prevent it from recurring is by getting to its root.
Read more: Fibroids Bleeding Treatment
Fibroid Degeneration in Pregnancy
Fibroid enlargement is influenced by an increase in estrogen levels during pregnancy. Fibroids usually do not grow during pregnancy, but some research indicates they may develop during the first trimester. Larger fibroids outgrow their blood supply. Not only this, but the growing uterus may distort and bend blood vessels, compromising the fibroid’s blood supply. The larger the fibroid, the more likely it will cause degeneration.
Fibroid degeneration that occurs during pregnancy is called necrobiosis. Symptoms include severe abdominal pain and bleeding, which are frightening as they seem like a miscarriage. If you experience unusual symptoms or pain and have a fibroid, seek immediate medical attention.
Variations of Degenerating Fibroids
Rarely, the fibroid grows on a stalk of tissue, extending from the uterine wall, known as a pedunculated fibroid. This type of fibroid is more vulnerable to degeneration as the stalk can twist and cut off the blood supply. When this happens, the fibroids begin to die. However, the pain can turn severe and last significantly longer than an average degeneration.
If nothing else works, surgery becomes necessary to remove such a fibroid and stop the pain. Your doctor will recommend the best possible treatment for your symptoms.
Red Degeneration of a Fibroid
One type of fibroid degeneration, called red generation due to its red-colored appearance, occurs in about 8% of fibroid growths. It usually occurs during or after pregnancy due to hemorrhagic infractions of the uterine fibroids. Even though it is rare, it can cause troublesome complications during pregnancy, such as severe pain and bleeding.
Read more: Signs and Symptoms of Blood Clots
Treatment Options for Degenerating Fibroids
If your symptoms are not very serious, your healthcare provider may recommend pain-relieving medications, a heating pad, or massaging your lower abdomen to ease the cramps and bloating. These home remedies can keep pain under control and help you continue routine activities.
However, if your symptoms worsen and you experience severe pain, cramps, bloating and heavy bleeding, you need medical attention. The doctor may also order imaging such as a CT scan of the abdomen, a urine analysis, and blood tests to rule out underlying causes of your pain.
The following treatments help to manage fibroid degeneration symptoms:
- Birth control pills, and other types of hormonal birth control methods
- Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists – These medications are prescribed to stop the menstrual cycle and shrink fibroids.
- Endometrial ablation – The lining of the uterus is removed or destroyed to control very heavy bleeding.
- Uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) – It is a cutting-edge, noninvasive procedure in which the blood supply to the fibroids is blocked, causing it to shrink.
- Myomectomy – It is a surgical procedure that removes the fibroids without taking out the healthy tissue of the uterus
- Hysterectomy – It is a surgical procure to remove the uterus. This is the only definitive, long term cure for uterine fibroids.
Symptoms of fibroid degeneration can be difficult to manage if you do not know what is causing them. Discuss your symptoms and condition with your doctor to find out how fibroid development can be stopped and how you can find relief from the pain and discomfort.
Dr. Sergei A. Sobolevsky offers the highest quality care for degenerating uterine fibroids, keeping in mind your individual needs. He utilizes the most advanced diagnostic tests to accurately identify the problem and offers innovative and minimally invasive treatment approaches to effectively remove these growths. No matter how minor or severe your fibroid-related symptoms are, Dr. Sobolevsky comes up with the best solutions to manage them and prevents them from recurring to help you live a healthy, normal life.
Sergei Sobolevsky, MD, is a leading specialist in endovascular medicine with experience in vascular and interventional radiology. Dr. Sobolevsky has decades of experience in the field, with over 25,000 procedures performed, accumulating extensive experience in image-guided minimally invasive medicine, diagnosing and treating a range of conditions.
Dr. Sobolevsky earned his Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree in 1997 from the University of Colorado School of Medicine. He received his specialty clinical training in vascular and interventional radiology at Harvard University. Later, he earned his MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management. Recognized as a Castle Connolly Top Doctor and named to the Top Doctors New York Metro Area in 2020, 2021, and 2022, Dr. Sobolevsky is licensed in multiple states, has delivered presentations at numerous institutions in the US and abroad, and now acts as a clinical advisor for the biomedical industry. He also held multiple positions in the field during his career, including Chief of Vascular and Interventional Radiology at the Columbia University Medical Center in New York, NY, Senior Vice President in Clinical and Regulatory Affairs at Artann Laboratories in North Brunswick, NJ, and Medical Director at the American Endovascular and Amputation Prevention Center in Brooklyn.More About Dr. Sobolevsky