What is Fibroid Degeneration? – Types, Causes & Symptoms
- Published on August 12, 2022
A fibroid is a growth or tumour that develops on the muscular walls of the uterus. It is not cancerous and usually does not lead to serious complications.
Even though a fibroid is not cancerous, it can still cause symptoms that make it uncomfortable and painful to live with. This is particularly the case when a fibroid grows too large and starts to degenerate.
What is fibroid degeneration?
Fibroids are made up of living tissue, so they take up oxygen and nutrients while they grow. They receive it from the blood vessels supplying blood to the uterus and within the uterus.
When a fibroid grows too large in size, the nutrients received are insufficient to keep the fibroid alive. The fibroid cells begin to die in a process known as degeneration.
Fibroid degeneration can be painful and uncomfortable. It may also lead to complications if untreated.
Types of fibroid degeneration
The different fibroid degeneration types are as follows:
– Hyaline degeneration of fibroid
Hyaline degeneration of fibroid is the most common type. It involves the replacement of the fibroid tissues with hyaline tissue, a connective tissue. This reduces the blood supply to the fibroids.
This does not usually cause symptoms. However, it can cause the death of the cells and lead to cystic degeneration.
– Cystic degeneration of fibroid
Cystic degeneration of fibroid is not as common. It usually takes place after menopause and after hyaline degeneration.
The reduced blood supply to fibroids and the dying cells leads to cystic areas between the cells and tissues.
– Myxoid degeneration of fibroid
When fibroids undergo this kind of degeneration, it is similar to cystic degeneration, but there is a gelatinous material present in the cystic masses.
– Red degeneration of fibroid
This usually occurs during or after pregnancy. It is a potential pregnancy complication. It happens due to hemorrhagic infractions (rupture and bleeding) of the uterine fibroids.
With this kind of fibroid degeneration, pain during pregnancy is a characteristic symptom.
What are the symptoms of fibroid degeneration?
Fibroid degeneration symptoms include the following:
- Heavy or disrupted periods
- A heavy feeling in the lower abdomen or a bloated appearance
- An increase in weight
- Frequent passing of urine
- Painful cramps during periods
- Sharp or stabbing pain in the pelvic area
What are the causes of fibroid degeneration?
When a fibroid is untreated, it may grow much larger in size. It now requires even more supply of nutrients than is available from the blood flow. The surrounding blood vessels are unable to supply it.
As a result, the fibroid cells begin to die, and this process is called fibroid degeneration. Fibroid degeneration can cause pain, swelling, and discomfort in the abdomen, along with other symptoms.
As more cells die, the fibroid can survive on the blood flow, and degeneration comes to a pause. At this stage, the symptoms may subside, but it is still a risk. This is because the fibroid will begin to grow again as the blood supply reaches it. It again grows and then starts to degenerate.
To break this cycle, it is important to seek treatment.
How is fibroid degeneration diagnosed?
If you are showing symptoms of fibroids, make sure to see a medical professional such as a gynaecologist, obstetrician, or OBGYN who can diagnose your condition.
They will ask you about your symptoms and conduct a physical examination, including a pelvic exam. Based on the examination, they may then order further testing such as an imaging test like an ultrasound or an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scan.
How is fibroid degeneration treated?
If you have a fibroid and your symptoms are not very serious, the gynaecologist may first suggest a wait-and-watch approach. This will involve regular check-ups to keep an eye on the fibroid.
If the fibroid is growing or degeneration begins, you may experience pain, cramps, or bloating, amongst other symptoms. In such cases, using a heating pad or hot water bottle on your lower abdomen can help relieve the pain.
Pain medications may also be prescribed to relieve the pain.
However, if you experience severe pain, heavy bleeding, or other serious symptoms, then treatment is advised. In such cases, whether it is red, myxoid, or cystic degeneration of fibroid, treatment is important.
The treatment options for fibroid degeneration may be non-surgical or surgical.
Fibroid degeneration can be treated with me uterine fibroid embolization. This treatment shrinks the fibroids instead of removing them by surgery.
Instead of an invasive procedure, a tiny incision is made to access a large artery. Through that artery, the other arteries supplying the fibroid are selectively blocked.
This is done so that the uterus is still supplied and healthy, but the fibroid’s blood supply is blocked, and it helps remove the fibroid and prevents it from regrowing.
Surgical treatment for fibroid degeneration may include a focused surgery to remove the fibroid. In some cases, it may even require uterus removal and transplant. It is best to discuss the best option with your gynaecologist or gynaecological surgeon.
Surgery is usually advised when there is a complication, such as if the fibroid twists and blocks access to its stem. In such cases, the entire fibroid dies, which is a more serious issue.
If you are experiencing symptoms of fibroids, it is a good idea to get it checked by a gynaecologist or OBGYN. If you experience any serious symptoms such as bleeding or severe pain in the abdomen, make sure to get it checked at the soonest.
Fibroids and fibroid degeneration can affect fertility and lead to infertility if left untreated. If you have fibroids and are concerned about having a child, it is best to visit a fertility specialist and get a fertility test done.
For the best fertility testing, treatment and care, visit Birla Fertility and IVF or book an appointment with Dr. Vinita Das.
1. How long does the pain last from shrinking fibroid degeneration?
The pain can last between a few days to a couple of weeks. It will usually subside when the degeneration pauses (when the fibroid can survive again). However, it will begin again if the fibroid again grows and starts to degenerate.
2. How long does fibroid degeneration take?
The process of fibroid degeneration usually takes a few weeks.
3. Where does a fibroid go during degeneration?
During fibroid degeneration, the fibroid cells or tissues start to die in a process known as necrosis. Parts of the fibroid may liquefy, and parts may remain as solid matter. In some cases, the tissue is slowly reabsorbed by the body. In many cases, it remains there and decomposes.
If the fibroid is attached to a stem (pedunculated fibroid), it may twist around and prevent blood from flowing to the stalk. This can lead to severe pain and may require surgery to remove the fibroid.
4. What is red degeneration of a fibroid?
Red degeneration of a fibroid is a kind of fibroid degeneration that can occur with pregnancy. It usually occurs during or after pregnancy. It can lead to severe pain and bleeding. However, the symptoms usually resolve within some days.
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Dr (Prof) Vinita Das
Dr. Vinita Das is a renowned name in the ﬁeld of reproductive health. She is a Former Dean & HOD ObGyn KG Medical University, Lucknow, She has extensive international experience and has visited Infertility Units at Birmingham Women’s Hospital, Liverpool women’s Hospital, Bristol University, in UK in an exchange program. She introduced IVF in the state of UP by creating the ﬁrst IVF facility in public sector at an aﬀordable cost
Over 40 years of experience
Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh
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