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Uterine fibroids are benign growths that form on or within the uterus during a woman’s childbearing years.
Most fibroids do not cause any symptoms, but some women with fibroids may have:
Abnormal uterine bleeding
Spotting or bleeding between periods
Heavy menstrual bleeding
More frequent or uncomfortable urination
Backache/lower back pain
Abdominal pressure/pelvic pressure or pain
What are Uterine Fibroids?
Uterine fibroids are the most common, non-cancerous growths in women of childbearing age. They usually stop growing or shrink once a woman reaches menopause. Uterine fibroids may appear inside the uterus, on its outer surface, within its wall, or attached by a stem-like structure. Uterine fibroids don’t need to be removed if they aren’t causing pain, bleeding or growing. Women who do have symptoms often find fibroids hard to live with, and have a medical or surgical procedure to remove the fibroids. Out of the entire population of women older than 30, 20-30% have uterine fibroids.
There are factors that can increase a woman’s risk of developing fibroids that include age, family history, obesity, and eating habits. In some women, fibroids can cause problems because of their size, number and location. A uterine fibroid can be as small as a pea or as large as a grapefruit.
Fibroids can be diagnosed during a routine pelvic exam when a health care provider may feel an enlarged, irregular outline of the uterus through the abdomen. The diagnosis can be confirmed with ultrasound. In some cases, fibroids are found during X-rays, MRI, or ultrasound procedures that are done for another reason.
No two fibroids are the same. The type of treatment depends on their number, size, location, and rate of growth. Treatment also depends on the severity of your symptoms.
Medical treatment includes the use of medication to treat the symptoms of fibroid-related bleeding and pain. Lupron is a common treatment for fibroids to temporarily stop menstrual periods, decrease size of fibroids and improve anemia by reducing or eliminating menstrual bleeding. However, fibroids grow after lupron is discontinued.
Surgical treatment includes removal of the fibroid(s) by myomectomy. This surgery can help preserve your uterus and your ability to have children. New fibroids may grow back later. Some fibroids inside the uterus can be removed through the vagina and some fibroids need to be removed through an abdominal incision. In some cases, a hysterectomy (removal of uterus) is the best option. In deciding on the best treatment, a number of factors should be considered. One of the most critical is whether or not childbearing has been completed.
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