Uterine Fibroids; Symtoms and Treatments


Uterine fibroid treatments

What Are Uterine Fibroids?

Uterine fibroids are one of the most common medical conditions in women.  They are benign tumors in the uterus.  The cause is not known but they are most commonly found in women in their 30s and 40s.  Risk factors include obesity, early onset of menstruation (age 10 or younger) and being African American.  Generally, they shrink after menopause.symptoms of fibroids in uterus The American Society for Reproductive Medicine has found that the African-American women who develop uterine fibroids will have more — 9.9 vs. the 4.5 that are often found in caucasian women.  Nearly 50 percent of women in the United States will develop uterine fibroids during their lives and they are the leading cause for hysterectomies.  This number can get as high as 80 percent for African American women. Because of the high incidence rate, it is important that women know the symptoms of fibroids in uterus.

There Are Different Kinds of Uterine Fibroids?

Submucosal fibroids:  They grow into the inner uterine cavity.  These cause longer and heavier menstrual flow.

Subserosal fibroids:  These project outside of the uterus.  Sometimes they press on the bladder, causing problems with urination.  They can press on the rectum or spine causing pressure and pain.

Intramural fibroids:   These are found inside the uterine wall itself and if they are large can cause longer and heavier periods, pressure and pain.

Common Signs And Symptoms Of Fibroids In Uterus Are:

  • Heavy periods.  Nearly 46 percent of women who have fibroids report extremely heavy flow during their periods.  It is not known why fibroids cause excessive bleeding.
  • Longer periods that last seven days or more.  Again, a doctor should be consulted to prevent anemia from developing.
  • Pelvic pressure or pain.  This can occur during intercourse, include lower back, pelvic and abdominal pain and bloating.  This pain sometimes goes down the legs.
  • Frequent urination and difficulty employing the bladder
  • Constipation or painful bowel movements.

If a woman experiences any of the following symptoms of fibroids in uterus, they should go to a doctor for an evaluation.

  • Persistent pain in the pelvis that doesn’t go away.
  • Unusually heavy, long or painful menstrual bleeding.
  • Bleeding or spotting between menstrual cycles.
  • Bloating in the abdomen or uterus.
  • Difficulty with urination including emptying the bladder.

How Are Fibroids Diagnosed?

  • Lab tests:  Physicians run blood tests to rule out any other problems that can cause similar symptoms
  • Imaging: 
    • Magnetic resonance imaging: This can show the size and location of any fibroids.
    • Ultrasound: Can be used to confirm fibroids by showing their size and location.
    • Hysterosonography.  A doctor injects saline into the uterus before using ultrasound  technology to view the uterus.
    • Hysterosalpingography. Dye in injected into the uterus and an x-ray is performed. 
    • Hysteroscopy.  A small, lighted device is inserted into the uterus along with saline so the doctor can examine it for fibroids.

What Are The Treatments For Uterine Fibroids?

The kind, size, exact location and the woman’s age dictate what kind of treatment she will receive.  Medication can be used to shrink them,  their blood supply can be cut, the fibroids themselves can be removed or the uterus can be removed.  The most common treatment of uterine fibroids is a hysterectomy but there are other less drastic options for the removal of uterine fibroids.   This is a surgery in which the uterus itself is removed.  The medications can only shrink the fibroids temporarily.

A new, minimally invasive procedure has been developed to treat uterine fibroids that results in them being reabsorbed into by the body.  Access uses radiofrequency ablation, in which high frequency alternating energy is applied with a small needle array. The benefits to this procedure are that it does not effect any surrounding tissue and is done on an outpatient basis.

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