About Fibroids and Treatment
What Are Fibroids?
Fibroids are non-cancerous growths that form in the uterus.
What Are the Symptoms of Fibroids?
Fibroids often cause no symptoms at all. When they do, symptoms can include:
- Heavy periods
- Pain, pressure, or a feeling of "fullness" in the belly
- The need to urinate often
- Too few bowel movements (constipation)
- Difficulty getting pregnant
How Are Fibroids Treated?
There are several treatment options. Each option has its own pros and cons. The right treatment for you will depend on:
- The symptoms you have
- Your age (because most fibroids shrink or stop causing symptoms after menopause)
- Whether you are done having children
- Whether your fibroids cause so much bleeding that you have a condition called anemia
- The size, number, and location of your fibroids
- How you feel about the risks and benefits of the different options
Fibroid treatment options include:
- Medications, Hormone Therapy, and Devices: Pills, vaginal rings, injections, and implants used for birth control can all reduce how much you bleed during your period. An intrauterine device, or IUD, can also make your periods lighter. Hormone therapy can also help reduce menstrual bleeding.
- Myomectomy: During this procedure, the surgeon removes the fibroids but leaves the uterus in place. It is effective, but it is not always a permanent fix, because fibroids can come back. Myomectomy is often a good choice for women who might want (more) children.
- Endometrial Ablation: This is a minimally invasive surgical procedure to remove or destroy the lining of the uterus. This procedure reduces bleeding from heavy periods. This option is not recommended for women who might want to get pregnant.
- Uterine Fibroid Embolization: This is a procedure to block the blood supply to the fibroid. When the fibroid no longer gets blood, it shrinks. This procedure is not recommended for women who might want to get pregnant.
- Hysterectomy: This is surgery to remove the uterus. The fibroids can't come back, however, women who have this surgery can never bear children.
How Do I Choose Which Option Is Right for Me?
Your OB/GYN provider can explain the pros and cons of each treatment, so that you can choose the option that's right for you. For women who might still want to have children, medicines or myomectomy is often the best choice. Women who do not want to have (more) children can often choose from any of the options. Remember, fibroid-related symptoms often go away with menopause.