Do you have pelvic pain that doesn’t go away? Are your periods especially heavy, and do you spot between periods? You may have uterine fibroids. Fortunately, there are numerous treatments available that can relieve your symptoms. The first step, however, is to visit your gynecologist for an exam.
What Are Fibroids?
Uterine fibroids are growths that develop in the uterus during a woman’s childbearing years. These fibroids are benign (noncancerous) and very often cause no symptoms whatsoever. In fact, most women will have fibroids at some point in their lives. The size, number, and location of fibroids can vary significantly from woman to woman. Fibroids may be diagnosed during a pelvic exam or ultrasound.
Signs & Symptoms
When symptoms of uterine fibroids appear, most common are heavy menstrual bleeding, as well as pelvic discomfort and pain. It can also lead to anemia, urinary tract issues, and infertility. Left untreated, uterine fibroids can continue to grow and multiply, worsening any symptoms you are experiencing.
For women with fibroids that are causing no symptoms, it is seldom necessary to remove the growths. Fibroids may even go away on their own, typically when estrogen levels drop, such as during menopause.
Fibroids & Infertility
If you are trying to get pregnant and you have fibroids, talk to your EstrogenicA Health 360 OB-GYN provider about whether having the fibroids removed will increase your chance of becoming pregnant.
How Fibroids Are Treated
There are a variety of medications – including hormonal birth control methods – used to treat fibroid symptoms. Should these methods fail to relieve your symptoms, your EstrogenicA Health 360 provider may recommend removing the fibroids. The type of fibroid removal procedure that is right for you will depend on the number, size, and location of your fibroids.
Here are the various ways fibroids can be removed:
A myomectomy removes uterine fibroids without harming your uterus should you wish to become pregnant in the future.
There are three ways a myomectomy can be performed:
- Hysteroscopy – a minimally invasive procedure in which fibroids are removed using a scope that is inserted into the uterus through the vagina and cervix
- Laparoscopy – also a minimally invasive procedure using a scope, but it enters the uterus via tiny incisions near your belly button
- Laparotomy – a traditional, “open” surgery in which your gynecological surgeon will remove the fibroids through one larger incision in the abdomen
Because fibroids can grow back after a removal procedure, the only way to remove fibroids permanently is to surgically remove your uterus with a hysterectomy. However, this is only recommended if a woman is sure she will not want to become pregnant in the future.
While less invasive than a hysterectomy, each of the below fibroid treatment methods may prevent future pregnancy, so they are not recommended for women who wish to bear children.
- Embolization – This severs blood flow to the fibroids, causing them to shrink, which can relieve symptoms. It is performed via a catheter guided through a blood vessel in your groin to the appropriate artery in your uterus. This method is also called uterine artery embolization (UAE).
- Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) – An electric current is used to heat and shrink fibroid tissue. This minimally invasive procedure can be performed in a number of ways, including through the vagina or belly button (in a laparoscopy), guided by ultrasound imagining. The laparoscopic method is also called the Acessa Procedure.
- Focused Ultrasound Surgery (FUS) – Performed while you are in a magnetic resonance image (MRI) machine, MRI-guided FUS directs ultrasonic pulses into the uterus to heat and destroy fibroids.