Uterine Fibroids

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Uterine fibroids are noncancerous growths of the uterus that often appear during childbearing years.

 

Uterine fibroids develop from the smooth muscular tissue of the uterus, the myometrium. A single cell divides repeatedly, eventually creating a firm, rubbery mass distinct from nearby tissue. Many fibroids that have been present during pregnancy shrink or disappear after pregnancy, as the uterus goes back to a normal size.

Fibroids range in size from seedlings, undetectable by the human eye, to bulky masses that can distort and enlarge the uterus. They can be single or multiple, in extreme cases expanding the uterus so much that it reaches the rib cage.

Symptoms:

  • Heavy menstrual bleeding
  • Prolonged menstrual periods
  • Pelvic pressure or pain
  • Frequent urination
  • Difficulty emptying your bladder
  • Constipation
  • Backache or leg pains

Rarely, a fibroid can cause acute pain when it outgrows its blood supply. Deprived of nutrients, the fibroid begins to die. Byproducts from a degenerating fibroid can seep into surrounding tissue, causing pain and, rarely, fever. A fibroid that hangs by a stalk inside or outside the uterus can trigger pain by twisting on its stalk and cutting off its blood supply.

See your doctor if you have:

  • Pelvic pain that doesn't go away
  • Overly heavy or painful periods
  • Spotting or bleeding between periods
  • Pain consistently with intercourse
  • Enlarged uterus and abdomen
  • Difficulty emptying your bladder

Fibroids usually don't interfere with conception and pregnancy. However, it's possible that fibroids could cause infertility or pregnancy loss.

Treatment:

Medication

Medications for uterine fibroids target hormones that regulate your menstrual cycle, treating symptoms such as heavy menstrual bleeding and pelvic pressure. They don't eliminate fibroids, but may shrink them.

Noninvasive procedure

MRI-guided focused ultrasound surgery is performed while you're inside an MRI scanner equipped with a high-energy ultrasound transducer for treatment. The images give your doctor the precise location of the uterine fibroids. When the location of the fibroid is targeted, the ultrasound transducer focuses sound waves into the fibroid to heat and destroy small areas of fibroid tissue.

Traditional surgical procedures

Options for traditional surgical procedures include: Abdominal myomectomy or a Hysterectomy. 

Preventing uterine fibroids may not be possible, but only a small percentage of these tumors require treatment.

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