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Treatment Options for Uterine Fibroids

Uterine Fibroids

Uterine fibroids are noncancerous growths of the uterus that often appear during childbearing years. They aren’t associated with an increased risk of uterine cancer and almost never develop into cancer.

Fibroids range in size from seedlings, which cannot be seen with the human eye, to bulky masses that can distort and enlarge the uterus. You can have a single fibroid or numerous ones. In extreme cases, multiple fibroids can expand the uterus so much that it extends to the rib cage.

Many women experience uterine fibroids at some point in their lives. But most women don’t know they have them because there are often no symptoms. Your Ob/Gyn may discover fibroids during a pelvic exam or prenatal ultrasound.

Uterine fibroids are frequently found during a routine pelvic exam. Your Ob/Gyn may notice irregularities in the shape of your uterus, suggesting the presence of fibroids. If you have symptoms of uterine fibroids, you doctor may order these tests and ultrasound or lab tests.

Symptoms of Uterine Fibroids

Many women who have fibroids don’t experience any symptoms. In those who do, symptoms can be influenced by the location, size and number of fibroids. In women who have symptoms, the most common symptoms of uterine fibroids include:

  • Heavy menstrual bleeding

  • Menstrual periods lasting more than a week

  • Pelvic pressure or pain

  • Frequent urination

  • Difficulty emptying the bladder

  • Constipation

  • Backache or leg pains

When To See A Doctor For Uterine Fibroids

See your Ob/Gyn if you are experiencing:

  • Pelvic pain that doesn’t disappear

  • Overly heavy, prolonged or painful periods

  • Spotting or bleeding between periods

  • Difficulty emptying your bladder

Seek prompt medical care if you have severe vaginal bleeding or sharp pelvic pain that begins suddenly

Causes of Uterine Fibroids

Doctors believe that uterine fibroids develop from a stem cell in the smooth muscular tissue of the uterus. A single cell divides repeatedly, eventually creating a firm, rubbery mass separate from nearby tissue.

The growth patterns of uterine fibroids vary – they may grow slowly or rapidly, or they may remain the same size. Some fibroids go through growth spurts, and some shrink on their own. Many fibroids that are present during pregnancy shrink or disappear after pregnancy, as the uterus goes back to a normal size.

There are few known risk factors for uterine fibroids, other than being a woman of reproductive age. Other factors that can have an impact on fibroid development include heredity, race and some environmental factors.

Although researchers continue to study the causes of fibroid tumors, little scientific evidence is available on how to prevent them. Preventing uterine fibroids may not be possible, but only a small percentage of these tumors require treatment. But, by making healthy lifestyle choices, such as maintaining a normal weight and eating fruits and vegetables, you may be able to decrease your fibroid risk.

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