Fibroids Q & A
What are uterine fibroids?
These muscular growths appear on your uterus and vary in:
Fibroids may develop in the uterine cavity, in the uterine wall, or on the uterine surface. Location of fibroids may be associated with the symptoms they cause. Some are too small to be seen with the naked eye, while others may be large and observable on a sonogram. Fibroids generally develop in women in their 30s and 40s, but they can appear at any age.
What are the symptoms of fibroids?
Often, fibroids present no symptoms. In some women, the symptoms may range from mild to severe and include:
- Heavy menstrual flows and pain during periods
- Spotting between periods
- Constipation and frequent urination
- Enlarged abdominal and pelvic areas
- Infertility and miscarriages
- Abnormal pain
What causes fibroids to develop?
Researchers don’t know the exact cause of uterine fibroids but suspect that hormones and genetics play a role. You can’t prevent fibroids, but certain factors do increase your risk, including:
- Use of birth control
- Vitamin D deficiency
- A diet high in red meat and low in fresh produce and dairy
- Alcohol use
- Getting your first period at a young age
How are fibroids treated?
Most fibroids cause minimal symptoms and shrink as you enter menopause. However, if you and Dr. Hurst determine that you need treatment for fibroids, you have a few options.
She may suggest over-the-counter pain medications to relieve severe period cramping, birth control pills to control a heavy flow, and iron supplements to avoid anemia if your fibroids cause excessive bleeding during menstruation.
Uterine artery embolization, performed in conjunction with a radiologist, is another viable therapy for treating fibroids. This procedure is non-surgical and performed under conscious sedation. It cuts off the blood supply to the fibroids, so they naturally shrink.
Surgical removal of fibroids and a full hysterectomy may be necessary in some severe fibroid cases. Endometrial ablation, in which the lining of the uterus is destroyed, and ultrasound destruction of the fibroids are other possible therapies.
Will fibroids cause infertility?
Fibroids may contribute to infertility, but there’s no way to know for sure. Most women with fibroids have no trouble getting pregnant.
But, if a fibroid causes a change in shape to the wall of the uterus, it may inhibit implantation of a fertilized egg. If Dr. Hurst suspects this, she may recommend that you undergo a myomectomy to improve your chances of getting pregnant. A myomectomy involves a targeted removal of the fibroid or fibroids.