Cervical Fibroids: What You Need to Know
Though far less common than other types of uterine fibroids, cervical fibroids affect a significant portion of women around the world every year. While they’re not fatal, they can severely impact everyday life and leave women open to more significant long-term health issues. Discover more about this commonly overlooked health issue and how you can manage it if you’re diagnosed.
What Are Cervical Fibroids?
Cervical fibroids are non-cancerous tumors that grow in the cervix, the low, narrow part of the uterus that leads to the vagina. They vary in size and quantity, and are also known as cervical myomas. It is generally believed that cervical fibroids are caused by an excess of estrogen or an imbalance between estrogen and progesterone.
When cervical fibroids actually do occur, they are almost always accompanied by the more common type of fibroids that grow in the upper part of the uterus. Although generally not life-threatening, cervical fibroids can create serious long-term health issues depending on their size and location, including but not limited to:
- Blockage of the urinary tract
- Prolapse through the cervix into the vaginal canal, which can lead to ulcers
- Anemia due to low red blood cell count
If left untreated, cervical fibroids can grow in size and quantity, which will usually result in worsening pain, cramping, and heavier bleeding.
What Are The Symptoms of Cervical Fibroids?
Cervical fibroids symptoms mirror those of other types of uterine fibroids and often include:
- Excessively heavy bleeding during menstrual periods
- Bleeding between menstrual periods
- Anemia and fatigue
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Vaginal discharge
- Pelvic and abdominal pain
- Feeling of fullness, and abdominal enlargement and distortion
- Difficulty urinating, including failure to fully void, and weak or dribbly stream
- Urinary tract infection
These symptoms are likely to build and get worse the longer fibroids go untreated. Cervical fibroids can usually be diagnosed through either a pelvic exam or transvaginal ultrasound.
Treating Cervical Fibroids
There are multiple treatment options for cervical fibroids, depending upon the size, location, symptoms, impact and other factors, and where you are in your fertility journey and other stages of life. If cervical fibroids are small enough and not causing any symptoms, your doctor may want to take a “watchful waiting” approach.
If your and your doctor deem it necessary to take action, you have several options. One increasingly popular treatment is uterine fibroid embolization (UFE), which is minimally invasive and deprives the fibroids of their blood supply, eventually killing them. Another popular option is myomectomy.
Myomectomy can be performed in one of three different ways:
- Abdominally – Small horizontal incision in your abdomen, usually by your ‘bikini line.’ A vertical incision may be needed for patients with larger uteruses
- Laparoscopically – Instrument is inserted through a series of small incisions near the navel to remove fibroids either manually or robotically.
- Hysteroscopically – Instrument is inserted into the vagina and cervix to cut away and remove the fibroids, piece by piece.
It’s important to note that fibroids have approximately a 30% chance of coming back if removed by myomectomy. Another option that directly treats the fibroids is a non-invasive procedure called MRI-guided focused ultrasound (MRgFUS). If you’re just looking to control symptoms such as pain and heavy bleeding, there are gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonist medications. contraceptive pills, intrauterine devices (IUDs), and endometrial ablation. Keep in mind, however, that these therapies will not shrink, kill, or otherwise change the fibroids.
If you’re experiencing symptoms of cervical fibroids, speak with your doctor to determine which treatment may be best for you.
*Aliabadi, T. What Are Cervical Myomas? https://www.draliabadi.com/gynecology/cervical-conditions/myomas/