Uterine fibroids are noncancerous growths of the uterus that often appear during childbearing years. They aren’t associated with an increased risk of uterine cancer and almost never develop into cancer.
Fibroids range in size from seedlings, undetectable by the human eye, to bulky masses that can distort and enlarge the uterus. They may grow slowly or rapidly or remain the same size. Some fibroids shrink on their own.
As many as 3 out of 4 women have uterine fibroids at some point. Most are unaware of them because they don’t cause symptoms. In women who have signs and symptoms, the most common are:
- Heavy menstrual bleeding
- Prolonged menstrual periods
- Pelvic pressure or pain
- Frequent urination
- Difficulty emptying your bladder
- Backache or leg pains
Rarely, a fibroid can cause acute pain. This happens when it outgrows its blood supply.
There’s no single best approach to treat uterine fibroids — many treatment options exist. They include:
Watchful waiting. If you aren’t experiencing signs or symptoms, watchful waiting could be the best option. Fibroids aren’t cancerous and they usually grow slowly, or not at all, and tend to shrink after menopause.
Medications. Medications 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.
Minimally invasive procedures. These procedures may be used to destroy uterine fibroids
Surgery. A surgeon removes the fibroids, either with traditional open surgery or laparoscopic surgery. If the fibroids are small and few in number, laparoscopic surgery may be performed. If you have multiple fibroids, very large fibroids, or very deep fibroids, your doctor may recommend traditional open surgery. The only permanent solution for treating uterine fibroids is the surgical removal of the uterus (hysterectomy). Hysterectomy is major surgery and it ends your ability to bear children.
Excerpt From: The Mayo Clinic. “Mayo Clinic A to Z Health Guide”.