Uterine fibroids are a common problem, affecting women of reproductive age. Sometimes these benign tumors don’t cause symptoms, so a woman may not even realize that she has fibroids until she visits her OBGYN for an annual checkup. Fibroids may be detected during a regular pelvic exam; however, further testing such as an ultrasound is usually needed for a diagnosis.
What Are Fibroids?
Sometimes fibroids can cause symptoms such as pelvic pain, bowel and urinary problems, pain during sex, and heavy bleeding. While these tumors are benign and very prevalent they can affect fertility; therefore, it’s important that you see a gynecologist once a year for a full gynecological checkup even if you aren’t experiencing symptoms. The symptoms you experience depend upon how many fibroids are present, as well as their location and size.
Since fibroids affect women differently there isn’t just one way to treat them. Often, your gynecologist may recommend just watching and monitoring the fibroid if you are experiencing little to no symptoms. Since fibroids usually grow slowly or don’t grow at all there isn’t much concern that the fibroid will continue to grow if left untreated.
There are also medications that your OBGYN can prescribe to treat issues affecting your menstrual cycle such as heavy bleeding or pelvic pain. These medications won’t get rid of fibroids but they can shrink them. Common medications used to treat uterine fibroids include gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists, a progestin-releasing intrauterine device (IUD) and tranexamic acid.
If the fibroids are large or causing severe symptoms then your gynecologist may suggest surgery or noninvasive procedures also geared toward removing the uterine fibroids. One such procedure uses a noninvasive MRI-guided ultrasound surgery in order to destroy fibroids while also preserving the healthy uterine tissue. There are also minimally invasive procedures such as a uterine artery embolization or laparoscopic myolysis. Women who are looking to get pregnant may not be right for some of these procedures; therefore, it’s important to talk with your doctor about the pros and cons of these treatments before deciding on the best approach for treating fibroids.
If you are experiencing symptoms of fibroids it’s important that you talk with your gynecologist to find out what’s going on. Even though these growths are benign it’s still important to make sure that you are getting the treatment and care you need to reduce symptoms and potential complications.