Uterine fibroids, also known as “leiomyoma” or simply “myoma,” are muscular tumors that grow in the wall of the uterus. Fibroids can be present as either a single tumor or many tumors, and they can be as small as a pebble or larger than an apple in rare cases.
According to the National Institutes of Health, “most American women will develop fibroids at some point in their lives. One study found that, by age 50, 70% of white women and 80% of African American women have fibroids. In many cases, fibroids are believed not to cause symptoms, and in such cases women may be unaware they have them.”
Uterine fibroids are the most common non-cancerous tumors in women of childbearing age. As women age, the odds of developing fibroids increases. Although the presence of uterine fibroids can lead to infertility, miscarriage, or early onset of labor, most women with fibroids can get pregnant naturally. For those who cannot, infertility treatments may help.
- Heavy or painful periods or bleeding between periods
- Feeling “full” in the lower abdomen
- Frequent urination
- Pain during sex
- Lower back pain
- Infertility, multiple miscarriages, or early labor
There are many treatment options for patients with uterine fibroids. Your CRE physician will discuss each of these with you and help you choose which may be best for you before any treatment begins.
Uterine Artery Embolization
Performed by radiologists, uterine artery embolization (UAE) is a procedure in which small pellets are used to shrink a fibroid by blocking its blood supply. The advantage of using UAE over other procedures is that it is non-invasive. However, because it does not remove the fibroid, they can sometimes regrow.
A hysterectomy is the complete surgical removal of the uterus. This treatment option for fibroids is only for women who do not want to maintain future fertility.
A myomectomy is a surgical procedure whereby a surgeon removes the fibroids from the uterus. This can be done either through robotic surgery, through a small surgical incision with a laparoscope, or through a larger incision with a laparotomy.
Uterine fibroids can also be treated with medication injections. These drugs work by suppressing the release of hormones upon which fibroids are dependent. This causes the fibroids to decrease in size, and they have been know to shrink to almost half their original size. The medication can only be used for a short time, and fibroids often start growing again once the medication is stopped.
A minor surgical procedure, endometrial ablation is the destruction of the lining of the uterus, and is normally done to control heavy bleeding during menstrual cycles. Because it does not affect the size of most fibroids, it is used to control bleeding symptoms not pain.
For more information about uterine fibroids and their treatment, please call us at (303) 321-7115 or request an appointment for a consultation with one of our doctors.