Uterine fibroids are common, and while many cause no symptoms and can even go undetected, others can grow to be large, causing significant symptoms and even resulting in miscarriages. At Women's OBGYN our doctors help women get the treatment they need for their uterine fibroids with medication or minimally-invasive procedures to shrink or remove these benign tumors. Contact Women's OBGYN for your appointment to see how they can help you take control of your health.
Uterine Fibroids Q & A
What are uterine fibroids?
Uterine fibroids are growths that occur inside or on the uterus. Composed of muscle and connective tissue, uterine fibroids are the most common type of female reproductive system tumor. Fibroids can be located inside the uterus, in or on the wall of the uterus, or just outside the uterus and attached by a “stem.”
Some estimates say anywhere from 30% to 77% of women will develop one or more fibroids during the childbearing years, but most will be too small to cause symptoms or be diagnosed.
The cause of fibroid development is unknown, but hormonal fluctuations and family history of fibroids seem to play significant roles. Uterine fibroids can range in size from about the size of a pea to the size of a grapefruit in some women.
What kinds of symptoms do uterine fibroids cause?
Some very small fibroids may cause no symptoms at all, but when symptoms do occur, they can include:
Painful cramping during periods
Very heavy periods, long periods, or spotting between periods
Increased urge to urinate
Pain during intercourse
Pressure in the pelvic region or lower belly
Low back pain
Are fibroids a type of cancer or “pre-cancer”?
Rarely. More than 99% of uterine fibroids are noncancerous.
What steps are taken to diagnose fibroids?
Diagnosis begins with a review of the patient’s symptoms and medical history, followed by a pelvic exam. Other techniques used to confirm a diagnosis can include transvaginal ultrasound, X-rays, MRI, and hysteroscopy, which uses a flexible instrument called a hysteroscope to see inside the uterus.
How are uterine fibroids treated?
When fibroids are very small and cause no symptoms, usually no treatment is needed beyond monitoring. However, large fibroids or any fibroids that cause unpleasant symptoms can be treated using one of these techniques:
Hormone therapy: To reduce the size of the fibroids
Endometrial ablation: To remove the uterine lining
MRI-guided focused ultrasound surgery (MRGFUS): To destroy fibroids using heat
Uterine artery embolization: To block blood flow to the fibroids, causing them to shrink
If I have fibroids, can I still have a baby?
Many women with fibroids can still become pregnant and carry a baby to term. However, if the fibroids are large or if they begin growing during pregnancy, they can cause complications and even miscarriage. Women with a history of uterine fibroids will need to be managed carefully during pregnancy to help prevent complications.