What Are Uterine Fibroids?
Uterine fibroids are benign, or non-cancerous, growths that develop inside the uterus. The size of a fibroid can vary, and they have not been shown to increase the risk of uterine cancer. However, they are extremely common. In fact, it is estimated that 75 percent of women will have uterine fibroids during their lifetime.
Symptoms of Uterine Fibroids
Many women who have uterine fibroids do not show any symptoms. If a woman does have symptoms, then she may experience heavy menstrual bleeding, frequent urination, back pain and pelvic pressure. Women who have uterine fibroids may also experience prolonged menstrual bleeding.
A woman’s chances of developing fibroids increases as she gets older. Many women start to develop uterine fibroids when they are in their 30s and 40s. However, fibroids have a tendency to shrink after a woman goes through menopause.
Family history is another risk factor for uterine fibroids. Women who have a sister or mother with this condition are at a greater risk for developing it themselves. Obesity can increase the risk of uterine fibroids. In fact, it is estimated that obese women are almost three times more likely to develop fibroids than normal weight women.
Lifestyle choices can also affect a woman’s chances of developing fibroids. For example, if a woman eats a lot of red meat, then she may have a greater chance of developing fibroids. On the other hand, eating plenty of vegetables can decrease the risk of fibroids. Furthermore, there has been evidence to suggest that early menstruation can increase the risk of uterine fibroids.
Treatment is often not required for women who do not have any symptoms. However, treatment is required if the symptoms become bothersome. GN-RH agonists are a class of medication that can be used to reduce the size of fibroids. They work by blocking progesterone and estrogen production. They are typically only recommended for three to six months because they temporarily cause menstruation to stop. They can also cause bone loss.
Oral contraceptives can also be used to treat fibroids. They will not shrink the size of fibroids, but they can stop the heavy bleeding. If medications do not work, then a procedure called a myomectomy could be performed. That is the surgical removal of the fibroids. The fibroids are removed, but the uterus is left intact. A hysterectomy is a permanent treatment for fibroids. It involves removing the entire uterus. This is typically the last resort for fibroid treatment.
Doctor Sherry Thomas can discuss all of the available treatments option to you after your consultation. Contact Dr. Sherry’s office today to schedule your appointment. We can work with you to create a customized treatment plan that offers the safest, most effective results.