About 20-80% of women develop fibroids by the time they reach age 50. Fibroids are most common in women in their 40s and early 50s. Not all women with fibroids have symptoms, which is why the statistics are so broad.
Women who do have symptoms often find it difficult to live with fibroids. Some have pain and heavy menstrual bleeding. Fibroids also can put pressure on the bladder, causing frequent urination, or on the rectum, causing rectal pressure. Should the fibroids get very large, they can cause the abdomen (stomach area) to enlarge, making a woman look pregnant.
If you’re suffering from uterine fibroids, you aren’t alone. Anywhere from 20-80% of women, particularly those in the their 40s and 50s, develop these noncancerous muscular growths in their womb. The exact number of sufferers is unclear because many women with fibroids have no symptoms.
When you do have symptomatic fibroids, it can be unbearable. You may have pelvic pain and heavy menstrual bleeding. Plus, the growths can cause your uterus to swell and put pressure on your bladder – causing you to urinate more often than usual – or put pressure on your rectum, causing uncomfortable pressure. Large fibroids can make your stomach swell, making you look pregnant.
Treatment for fibroids is available and doesn’t always mean you have to get a hysterectomy. At Abundant Life Healthcare, multiple treatment options are available. Read on to learn some of your options.
Why seek treatment?
If the doctors detect fibroids, but you don’t have symptoms, treatment may not be necessary. They’ll likely adopt a watch-and-wait approach. This involves regular ultrasounds to make sure the fibroids aren’t growing too much.
What influences treatment?
Whether or not you’re suffering symptoms is only one factor influencing fibroid treatment. Other things the doctors consider are the size and location of the fibroids. Plus, they’ll consider whether you might want to become pregnant in the future or if you’re close to menopause.
Can medicines treat fibroids?
If your fibroid treatments are mild, over-the-counter anti-inflammatories, such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen can help with mild cramping. The doctors may also recommend an iron supplement if you suffer from heavier-than-normal bleeding during your cycle. This can prevent you from developing iron-deficient anemia.
For more severe symptoms of fibroids, birth control pills or progesterone injections (such as Depo-Provera®) are possible options. You may also find relief with a hormone-based IUD, that also provides progesterone and limits heavy bleeding. Of course, if you want to get pregnant, birth control is not a valid option for uterine fibroid treatment.
Gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists (GnRHa) may be used to shrink your fibroids. These drugs put you in temporary menopause, so you do not get a period while taking them. GnRHa are really only a temporary way to relieve symptoms because they also contribute to bone thinning.
What are surgical options to treat fibroids?
Fibroids that cause moderate to severe symptoms may require surgery. At Abundant Life Healthcare, the doctors offer several options, depending again on the location and size of your growths as well as your family plans.
A myomectomy removes fibroids without negatively affecting the tissue of your uterus. This is an option if you hope to have children in the future. However, a myomectomy doesn’t mean new fibroids won’t grow in the future.
Hysterectomy is the surgical removal of the uterus. This ensures fibroids can’t grow, but it also eliminates your ability to get pregnant. If you are near menopause, in menopause, or are certain you don’t want any more children, this might be the most sensible solution.
Uterine fibroid embolization involves a procedure that blocks blood supply to the fibroids. A thin tube is threaded into blood vessels surrounding the fibroids. This procedure can cause early menopause, but prevent the future growth of fibroids.
If you suffer from heavy menstrual bleeding or other symptoms of uterine fibroids, visit the expert team of providers at Abundant Life Healthcare for a solution.