Fibroids are noncancerous tumors, or overgrowth of uterine muscle, that grow when they should not. Less than 0.1% of uterine fibroids become cancerous, but they generally should be treated because they can cause pain, heavy bleeding and other complications.
Growth of a uterine fibroid
Typically uterine fibroids are simply called fibroids, but they can also be called leiomyomas or myomas. Uterine fibroids may grow inside the uterus or they may grow on its outer surface or within the uterine wall. A woman may have only one, or more than one, and in varying sizes. There is no way to predict how a uterine fibroid will grow.
Sometimes they grow very slowly and remain small for so long that women don’t know they are there. Other times they may grow quickly and become painful over a short period of time. Women who are between the ages of 30 and 40 tend to be most at risk of developing fibroids. Mothers can also pass down fibroids to their daughter through genetic inheritance.
Symptoms of uterine fibroids
If a uterine fibroid is small, a woman may have no symptoms at all. Once a uterine fibroid begins to grow, a woman may experience some or all of the following symptoms:
- Increase in menstrual cramping and pain
- Heavier periods
- Longer periods
- Vaginal bleeding that’s not menstrual
- Dull, continuous back ache
- Pain during sex
- Pain during urination or difficulty with urination
- Abdominal cramping that is not menstrual related
- Feeling of pressure or bloating in the abdomen
- Miscarriage or possibly infertility
How are uterine fibroids found?
If a woman is having no symptoms, a woman’s doctor may find a uterine fibroid during her annual pelvic exam. If a woman visits her doctor due to symptoms, imaging may be used to assess pelvic and abdominal structures to help in the diagnosis. Typically a pelvic ultrasound is performed but sometimes a CT scan or MRI will be recommended.
Treatments for Fibroids
If a fibroid is small and is not causing symptoms, no treatment may be necessary. A doctor may want to intervene if the symptoms are interfering with a woman’s daily life. Occasionally the doctor may want to be certain that the fibroid is not cancerous.
Hormonal medications such as birth control might help with the pain and bleeding caused by fibroids, but these will not impact the growth of the fibroid. That means the fibroid may keep growing. Other medications are more powerful and can impact the growth of the fibroid and shrink it. These are only used for limited periods of time due to their side effects.
If the problems persist, surgery may be considered. The surgeries do not always remove the uterus, so pregnancy is still an option. The same fibroid does not return after surgical removal. But a new fibroid may grow again at a later time. In the event that the surgical option to keep the uterus does not work, the uterus may be removed in a hysterectomy. This would be a last resort if only all other options have not worked and the woman continues to have problems with treatments for fibroids.
Give us a call at 541-342- 8616 or Contact Us online today to make an appointment. Our doctors want to help you enjoy life to the fullest without pain from uterine fibroids.