Uterine fibroids are a type of benign (non-cancerous) growth that can occur inside or outside the uterus (womb). Fibroids may vary in size from tiny and almost undetectable, to being so large that they cause pain and discomfort.
Many women have uterine fibroids, but never have symptoms, so they require no treatment. If you suffer from fibroids that are interfering with daily life, your gynecologist can recommend a treatment plan that is right for you.
Causes of uterine fibroids
Experts do not know for certain why some women develop fibroids and others do not. There are, however, a few risk factors that can increase your risk for developing fibroids. These include:
- Family history of fibroids. If your mother or sister had fibroids, you are more likely to have them too.
- Race. African-American women have a higher incidence of fibroids.
- Diet habits. Eating more red meat, fewer vegetables, and drinking alcohol regularly appear to increase the risk of fibroids.
Fibroids are fueled by estrogen and progesterone, two hormones that circulate within a woman’s body. In most cases, fibroids may shrink after menopause, when these hormone levels naturally decrease.
Symptoms of uterine fibroids
When fibroids cause symptoms, they can be very uncomfortable and disruptive to daily life.
Symptoms may include:
- Heavy or prolonged menstrual cycles
- A feeling of pressure or pain in the pelvis
- A frequent need to urinate or trouble emptying your bladder completely
- Lower back pain
These symptoms can also be caused by other factors, so a visit to your gynecologist is important if you are having any of these issues. He or she can discuss your symptoms, perform an exam, and order any necessary tests to determine the cause.
There are many treatment options available for fibroids. Your physician will discuss the best methods for you, depending on the severity of your symptoms.>
Some treatment options include:
- Medications. Hormonal medications such as birth control pills and medicines that prevent the release of estrogen and progesterone can treat the symptoms of fibroids. Once the medication is stopped, however, the symptoms typically come back.
- Myomectomy. This is a surgical procedure that removes the fibroids while leaving the uterus in place. This treatment method is an ideal option for women who still wish to get pregnant, and can often be done with minimally invasive techniques. Your gynecologic surgeon can discuss your myomectomy options, which will depend upon the location of your fibroids.
- Endometrial ablation. An ablation removes or destroys the lining of the uterus, and can eliminate smaller fibroids located in this area. The procedure is typically done without incisions, and most patients can go home the same day. Endometrial ablation is only appropriate for women who are done having children.
- Hysteroscopy. This is minimally invasive surgery that can remove fibroids inside the uterus using a laser or electric pulses.
CarePoint Health is dedicated to providing women with top-tier, comprehensive gynecological care. To learn more about our gynecological and women’s services, contact CarePoint Health at 1-201-791-7000 orvisit our website to find a doctor.
Content on our website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 911. Always consult your physician before making any changes to your medical treatment.