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Uterine Fibroids

Uterine Fibroids

What are uterine fibroids?

Uterine fibroids are benign (non-cancerous) tumors comprised of muscle cells derived from the uterus. Fibroids can grow on the surface, middle or cavity of the uterus; they are very common, being found in up to one in four women during the reproductive years. Most uterine fibroids cause no symptoms but will cause the uterus to feel enlarged at the time of routine yearly pelvic exams. Ultrasound is the most common diagnostic tool utilized to diagnose uterine fibroids. In some special circumstances, CT scan, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or laparoscopy may be needed to determine the extent of uterine fibroid extension.

What are the symptoms of uterine fibroids?

Many women don’t feel any symptoms with uterine fibroids. But for other women, uterine fibroids can cause extended, heavy or painful periods, discomfort, bloating, frequent urination, urinary retention, constipation and infertility. During pregnancy, uterine fibroids can cause miscarriage, bleeding, premature labor, or interference with the position of the fetus.

How are uterine fibroids treated?

When symptoms become disruptive, uterine fibroids can be treated with various methods depending upon size, location, and number of fibroids. An individual with symptomatic uterine fibroids must consider how each specific treatment will help her particular symptoms and how the treatment may affect her fertility. Options for treatment of uterine fibroids include:

  • medication or hormonal therapy
  • high-intensity focused heat, cold or ultrasound waves
  • myomectomy (surgical removal, recommended for women who are trying to become pregnant)
  • endometrial ablation
  • uterine artery embolization, which uses small particles to block the blood supply to the fibroids
  • hysterectomy (surgical removal of the uterus)