Some estimates state that as many as 70% of women in the USA develop uterine fibroids during their childbearing years. Yet, not all are diagnosed as only a third of cases are large enough to be detected by a healthcare provider during a routine examination. While we do know that fibroids can cause heavy menstrual bleeding, is there a strong link between this and anemia?
Before we answer that, let’s take a closer look at what anemia is and how it affects the body…
In essence, anemia occurs when the amount of blood lost is greater than the body’s ability to replace lost blood cells. As a result, anemia can bring about symptoms like fatigue, dizziness, shortage of breath, chest pain, and headaches. In the vast majority of cases, anemia is temporary and symptoms are relatively mild, However, in extreme cases, it can be long-term and life-threatening.
Fibroids and Anemia – The link
Submucosal fibroids in particular (those that form into the uterine cavity) have the ability to enlarge the surface area of the uterine lining (the endometrium) causing heavier menstrual bleeding. Moreover, fibroids also contribute to hormone production disorders. These, in turn, cause the muscles in the uterus to contract and relax abnormally. During menstruation, this creates greater blood loss.
Heavy blood loss from uterine fibroids can also mean an excess loss of hemoglobin. This is the iron-rich protein found in red blood cells. Under normal circumstances when iron naturally depletes from the blood, it’s replaced by new cells. However, when blood loss is particularly heavy (like when a woman experiences a particularly heavy period) the body simply can’t keep up with cell regeneration. As such, essential oxygen supplies to the body’s tissues and organs are limited. This is why anemia causes common symptoms such as fatigue and shortage of breath.
If the root causes of anemia go untreated, then the condition can lead to more severe health issues including heart murmurs, irregular heartbeats, pregnancy complications, and even heart failure.
Treating Uterine Fibroids Using Uterine Fibroid Embolization.
The key to putting an end to anemia is to tackle the root cause. In this case, fibroids! In addition to surgical procedures such as a myomectomy (the removal of the fibroids) or a hysterectomy (the removal of the entire uterus), skilled physicians who specialize in endovascular procedures can also carry out a process known as uterine fibroid embolization (UFE, for short).
UFE is a minimally invasive non-surgical procedure that works by blocking the blood flow to the fibroid, thus cutting off its oxygen supply. During the procedure, a pinhole incision is made into either the wrist or groin area, and from there, a tiny catheter is inserted into the blood vessels surrounding the fibroid.
A harmless solution containing tiny particles is then passed through the catheter into the fibroid, essentially blocking off the blood supply. This causes the uterine fibroid to shrink meaning symptoms like heavy menstruation can be remedied.
Unlike a hysterectomy or myomectomy, uterine fibroid embolization doesn’t cut, scar, or remove any uterine tissue. It’s a quick procedure that is recognized by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and is proven to have a 90% success rate.
Uterine fibroids – Are you a candidate for UFE treatment?
If you are suffering from uterine fibroids that are causing anemia and/or heavy menstrual bleeding and pain, this non-surgical alternative may be the right solution for you. Why not see for yourself and contact Dr. Akinwande at the Midwest Institute for Non-Surgical Therapy (MINT).
As the only center in St Louis dedicated to the treatment of fibroids, our team will provide you with the best medical care using the latest surgical and non-surgical techniques to give you the health and wellbeing you deserve.