About Fibroids

Abraham Shashoua, M. D. on Living Healthy Chicago, WGN-TV


What Are Fibroids?


A uterine fibroid is a common type of benign (non-cancerous) tumor that develops within the uterine wall. Uterine fibroids occur in up to one third of all women and are the leading reason for hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) in the United States. One in five women older than 35 years has a uterine fibroid. An estimated 600,000 hysterectomies are performed in the United States annually, and at least one third are for fibroids.

uterine fibroids

Uterine fibroids may grow as a single tumor or in clusters. They often increase in size and frequency with age, but then revert in size after menopause. While not all women with fibroids experience symptoms, symptoms may include excessive menstrual bleeding, pelvic pain and infertility. The size, shape, and location of fibroids can vary greatly. They may be present inside the uterus, on its outer surface or within its wall, or attached to it by a stem-like structure.

 

The Fibroid Treatment Collaborative is dedicated to the comprehensive multi-disciplinary approach to the management of uterine fibroids.  The fact is that your situation is unique and deserves an individualized treatment plan. Located in Chicago, Illinois and Austin, Texas, we are minimally invasive gynecologic surgeons, radiologists, pain specialists, reproductive endocrinologists and physical therapists working in collaboration to plan your treatment.  We offer a personal treatment plan that takes into account the patient's personal preferences.  Click Here To learn more about our center.

Fibroids can range in size from small, pea-sized growths to large, round ones that may be more than 5-6 inches wide. As they grow, they can distort the inside as well as the outside of the uterus. Sometimes fibroids grow large enough to completely fill the pelvis or abdomen.

A woman may have only one fibroid or many of varying sizes. Whether fibroids will occur singly or in groups is hard to predict. They may remain very small for a long time, suddenly grow rapidly, or grow slowly over a number of years. Uterine fibroids are growths that develop from the muscle tissue of the uterus. They also are called leiomyomas or myomas.

In late 2007, I was diagnosed with uterine fibroids but at the time I did not have any discomfort.  In early 2011, I started to experience very heavy menstrual bleeding, particularly on the first two days of my cycle. I started scheduling activities around my menstruation which was now affecting both my professional and personal life.

At the end of 2011, at the age of 39, I decided to seek medical treatment and scheduled an appointment with my gynaecologist.  The ultrasound during this visit showed that I had multiple fibroids with one as large as a grapefruit. My gynaecologist recommended that I remove the fibroids given my desire to get pregnant and not being near menopausal age.  Unfortunately, my gynaecologist and other doctors in my country do not routinely perform abdominal myomectomies.  This made me very nervous since the one thing that resonated in my mind after researching the various treatment options for fibroids is to select a doctor who has extensive experience with the procedure.  My sister also had numerous fibroids removed and had major complications after her surgery.

I decided to get treatment outside of my country and after doing my research on the web, I narrowed down my search to two doctors one of whom was Dr. Shashoua.  I decided to make an appointment with Dr. Shashoua because he took the time to speak to me briefly about my condition over the phone and his admin staff, in particular, Lisa, was very helpful in answering all my questions, and I am sure I had more than the usual number of questions given that I was coming from another country.

In mid-January, 2012, I met with Dr. Shashoua for a consultation visit in his Chicago office. During that visit I agreed to the procedure he recommended, an abdominal myomectomy. Even though I had travelled quite far, I was prepared to walk out of the office and not agree to do the surgery if Dr. Shashoua did not exhibit confidence in his ability to do the surgery and hence, put me at ease. On the Wednesday of the same week, I had the surgery.  There were no complications and I was astonished when Dr.  Shashoua told me had removed 20 fibroids, the largest measuring 8 cm. I was in the hospital for 2 days and then discharged. The most uncomfortable days were the first four days, but after, I started to feel a lot more comfortable.   At two weeks postop, I went back to Dr. Shashoua who told me the wounds were healing well.  He also requested another visit at three weeks postop since I would be returning to my country a few days after.  The second postop visit showed that I was continuing to heal well.  My first period occurred at four weeks postop and I experienced very mild cramping and most importantly, no heavy bleeding. I returned to work at almost 5 weeks postop, still following doctor's orders closely and avoiding any heavy lifting or strenuous activity.  It is now almost 7 weeks after the surgery and I am feeling fine, I no longer look like I am pregnant and my scar is now starting to fade.                                                     RC, Belize City, Belize

Read more patient stories here

 The size, shape, and location of fibroids can vary greatly. They may be present inside the uterus, on its outer surface or within its wall, or attached to it by a stem-like structure.

There are numerous fibroid treatment options.  Many factors go into determining which is right for you.  Below are some of those options.  Click here to view a summary of treatment options, or click on a specific treatment below.